Rock ‘n’ Roll, Soul and Forbidden Love
Memphis is notoriously known for its music scene with its historical blues clubs on Beale Street which started the unique Memphis blues sound during the early 20th century. Blues, the sound that was formed by a mix of African American music with some White persuasion mix of blues, country, rock ‘n' roll, R & B, soul and hip-hop genres.
However, it is when one of rock ‘n' roll's pioneering disk jockeys by the name of Dewey Phillips came on the scene with his three-hour nightly radio show, Red, Hot and Blue changed how the world heard music on the radio in Memphis Tennessee that started the Rock ‘n' Roll revolution.
Playwright Joe DiPietro tells the story of a rock ‘n' roll social and musical revolution inspired by actual events in the phenomenal play of MEMPHIS!
Set in the 1950s where underground dance clubs lit up the night with explosive dancing, electrifying singing, and forbidden love. A love between a white radio DJ named Huey Calhoun (Liam Quealy), a man, considered a loser with big dreams and small pockets fall in love with a beautiful black young club singer by the name of Felicia Farrell (Aeriel Williams). Felicia who is trying to make it big knows that going North is the place where it will happen.
Their prohibited love story and collaboration begins when Huey makes his presence known at Felicia's brother Delray Jones (Lorenzo Rush Jr) underground dance club. Huey the forever charismatic and energetic guy who loves the soulful sounds and rhythms of black music is determined to fit in with the black culture by becoming a regular at the club despite the non-welcoming experience he was feeling by the owner and the other patrons.
His heart, eyes, and ears are set on Felicia and the way her singing makes him feel. He is determined to make her a star at least in Memphis, but first, he has to convince her over-protective brother Delray that he is a good guy and keep a job himself so that he can make his dream come true.
Eventually, Calhoun finds steady work at WHBQ radio station in Memphis where he is afforded to play the music that he loves, known as race music; music that was considered taboo to the white audience that encouraged free expression and controversial ideas.
This was after-all in the era of Jim Crowe where discrimination and racism was part of segregated neighborhoods, restaurants, relationships, churches, schools, dance clubs and even music.
This energetic and we must say a very talented group of actors astounded us for 2 ½ hours with explosive singing, dancing, and exceptional acting. A few of our favorites are Aeriel Williams, (Felicia Farrell) who has a voice and acting skills that will no doubt take her far in the business. The infectious Liam Quealy who embodied the character Huey Calhoun to perfection was inspired by the real-life Memphis DJ Phillips. He was a man that was unbiased and wanted to get people together through the sound of music. Huey was joined by his new best friend; Bobby played by James Earl Jones II. His comedic timing was priceless! Stephen Allen, Jr., was convincible as Wailin' Joe and lastly, another favorite and you might have to get the Kleenex ready for this one was Gator played by Gilbert Domally who melted your heart with his backstory.
Director Daryl D. Brooks made MEMPHIS a "MUST-SEE" soaring emotion of song and laughter. It's filled with a great musical score of songs such as "Memphis Lives In Me" song by Huey, Company, "Say A Prayer" Gator, Company, "Someday" song by Felicia, Company and "Underground" song by Delray, Felicia, Company.
MEMPHIS is a musical delight!
We highly recommend that you come out and see this sensational musical "MEMPHIS" about chasing fame and forbidden love, but it also about relationships between a brother/sister a mother/son and a boss/employee. This play will take you back in time with a captivating tale of forbidden love with a remarkable ensemble at Porchlight Theatre.
The cast includes:
Stephen Allen, Jr., (ensemble/Wailin' Joe)
Todd Aulwurm, (ensemble)
Shantel Cribbs, (ensemble)
Gilbert Domally, (Gator)
Ryan Dooley, (ensemble/White DJ/Mr. Collins/White Father/Gordon Grant)
Ariel M. Dorsey, (ensemble)
Jared David Michael Grant (ensemble/Black DJ/Reverend Hobson)
Graham Hawley, (ensemble);
James Earl Jones II, (Bobby)
Kayla Kennedy, (ensemble)
Nicole Lambert, (ensemble)
Bernell Lassai III, (ensemble)
Ivory Leonard IV, (ensemble)
Mallory Maedke, (ensemble)
Liam Quealy, (Huey Calhoun)
Casiena Raether, (ensemble/Clara/White Mother/Dance Captain)
Lorenzo Rush Jr., (Delray Jones)
Isaiah Silvia-Chandley, (ensemble/Buck Wiley/Martin Holton)
Aalon Smith (ensemble)
Koray Tarhan, (ensemble/Perry Como/Frank Dryer
Jacob Voigt (Mr. Simmons)
Nancy Wagner, (Gladys Calhoun)
Aeriel Williams, (Felicia Farrell)
PORCHLIGHT MUSIC THEATRE PRESENTS
AN ORIGINAL STORY OF LOVE, SOUL AND ROCK ‘n' ROLL, TO CHICAGO
AT THE RUTH PAGE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
APRIL 19 – JUNE 3
The 2010 Best Musical Tony Award-winner Features Book and Lyrics by
Joe DiPietro and Music and Lyrics by David Bryan
Directed for Porchlight Music Theatre by Daryl D. Brooks
Assistant Directed and Choreographed by Christopher Carter
Music Directed by Jermaine Hill
Filed under: ChicagoNow