Broadway smash, ‘Memphis The Musical’, is hitting London’s West End. Leading the London cast is British award-winning soul singer Beverly Knight and Irish-born West End actor Killian Donnelly .
In the underground nightclubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, a new era is dawning as the first sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, blues and gospel are making waves in the mainstream.
“The story of ‘Memphis’ is the story of the birth of rock and roll and how it exploded in the way that it did and it’s kind of through the prism of DJ Huey Calhoun’s journey, played by Killian (Donnelly). Huey falls in love with Felicia Farrell, played by me, who is an aspiring club singer and wants to be a star, Huey wants to be a star, but they are both stuck in this little place called Memphis, which is sitting on this powder keg that is about to explode, called rock and roll, and Huey is the first to play it anywhere,” explained actress Beverly Knight.
The show centres on a love story and is set in a very different Memphis to today’s. In the 1950s the city was still segregated and racism was rife.
Despite the serious undertones, music composer and co-lyrics writer – and Bon Jovi keyboardist – David Bryan says British fans have, so far, been loving the show:
“You know what? I think here everybody has been really enjoying it. We don’t finger point it at you, it’s not like ‘here’s racism,’ it’s like you see it and you discover it and I think it looks like Memphis here with the costumes and it looks like the set and the actors have great accents, so you think you’re in Memphis, it sounds like it, it’s smokey. So I think you feel like you’re in that time. We’ve been out through previews so you can look and everybody’s back is off the seat because they’re in your story.”
‘Memphis’ has been a huge success in United States. The show picked up four Tony awards.
‘==Memphis The Musical==’ is now on at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre.