Set as blues, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll are finding their way into the mainstream, the show is loosely based on the story of DJ Dewey Phillips: as one man throws cultural divisions to the wind on account of love, he becomes the start of a musical revolution.
Bon Jovi: David Bryan
With music courtesy of Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan, and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro (who also penned I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change), Memphis has genuine credentials in both rock and roll and musical theatre.
Matt Cardle and Beverley Knight: musical stars
Celebrity signings in West End musicals can often provoke a prolonged groan from those of us who prefer their musicals well done, but the big name taking the stage in Memphis is a proven pair of hands (and lungs). Award-winning singer Beverley Knight did a darn good job at filling the enormous shoes of Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard last year, showcasing her acting talent as well as her celebrated voice. Her nomination for Best Actress in a Musical is thoroughly deserved. As co-star Killian Donnelly gets ready to appear in Kenneth Branagh's new season of shows at the Garrick, his role has been filled by X-Factor winner Matt Cardle.
A new musical of this pedigree is a rare occurrence, and the era of music ensures that even though it's a completely new score, this show will have you singing along in no time.
Culture Whisper review: Memphis the Musical ★★★★★
Beverely Knight was just as stupendously talented as we'd expected. Though her acting verges on perfunctory, the sheer strength and range of her voice is mesmerising. But the real treat of the evening was Killian Donnelly as loveable loser turned music megastar Huey Phillips. The combination of expert comic timing, bucket loads of charm and a flawless voice means you can't help but root for him. We hope that Matt Cardle will bring the same fizz to the role.
Though occasionally hard-hitting in its presentation of racial prejudice, Memphis the Musical is tame compared to The Scottsboro Boys. But instead of fundamentally challenging the genre, this buzzy musical celebrates what's brilliant about musical theatre, with zippy choreography, a seamless ensemble cast, a catchy songbook, plenty of toe-tapping, lots of laughter and a few tears.
|What||Memphis, Shaftesbury Theatre|
|Where||Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8DP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
23 Oct 14 – 31 Oct 15, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here for details of how to book at the Shaftesbury Theatre|