Previewed 9 October 2014, Opened 23 October 2014, Closed 31 October 2015 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London
Transferring from Broadway, the Tony Award-winning new musical Memphis in London starring Beverley Knight.
Inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis the Musical follows the fame and forbidden love of a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break.
The cast features Beverley Knight as 'Felicia Farrell' (up to 17 October 2015) and Killian Donnelly as 'Huey Calhoun' (up to 4 July 2015). Matt Cardle plays the role of 'Huey Calhoun' from 6 July 2015. Please note that Beverley Knight is not scheduled to perform on Monday evenings or Wednesday matinees, but she is scheduled to perform on Monday evenings on 6, 13 and 27 July 2015 and 10, 17, 24 and 31 August 2015. Killian Donnelly does not perform at Thursday evening performances. Matt Cardle is not scheduled to perform at any Wednesday 2.30pm matinees. Please note that the producers cannot guarantee the appearance of any particular artist, which is always subject to illness and holidays. Directed by Christopher Ashley with choreography by Sergio Trujillo, sets by David Gallo, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Howell Binkley and sound by Ken Travis. Memphis the Musical features music and lyrics by David Bryan and book by Joe DiPietro. Enjoying a run of just under three on Broadway, the production won four Tony Awards includig for 'Best Musical' and 'Best Book of Musical' and 'Best Original Score. Joe DiPietro's West End credits include the musical comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Comedy Theatre, now Harold Pinter Theatre, 1999). Beverley Knight was last seen in London's West End in the stage musical version of The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre 2014)
When this production opened in London Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail thought that with a "predictable story, good music, great performances: the latest Broadway import, Memphis, should sell a packet, thanks to its two stars, British Beverley Knight and Irish Killian Donnelly and a general feelgood wallop... From the start this is a punchy, energetic show... this is a joyous show, one to knock the dust off your inner stylus." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard said that "Beverley Knight is sensational in this dynamic musical. She’s soulful, poised and often thrilling ... it is the vocal gloriousness of Knight and charisma of Donnelly which make a show that’s not exactly innovative feel fabulous." Dominic Maxwell in the Times highlighted that "Beverley Knight as Felicia Farrell is an endearing heroine who sings magnificently, and Killian Donnelly has a strong voice and a skittery charisma as the livewire Huey Calhoun... yet while my foot tapped, my heart rate stayed steady in this good-looking, well-meaning but disposable show." Paul Taylor in the Independent noted that "Killian Donnelly and Beverley Knight are sensational as the leads... and the choreography (by Sergio Trujillo) and the dancing (by the crack, inexhaustible company) are positively incandescent with raunchy, droll dynamism... though the show has a twinkling sense of irony, it also feels bit too sanitised to be profoundly satisfying as music-drama." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times wrote that "David Bryan and Joe DiPietro’s musical is a feel-good blast." John Nathan in the London Metro commented how "the pumping score by David Bryan sounds like all the R&B and soul hits you missed, though it's thanks to Beverley Knight and the cast's energy that it sounds like the real thing." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described how "Shaftesbury Avenue is now being lit up by this dynamic, Tony Award–winning US hit. It boasts some of the most thrilling vocal work you'll find on the London stage, in its roofraising evocation of the birth of rock'n'roll... The UK production's star draw is 'British soul queen' Beverley Knight. Her voice is so extraordinary – seemingly containing the force of a blast furnace – that were she signed to do just one number, this would still be an event. But she's at the loud–beating heart of the evening." Michael Billington in the Guardian hailed it as being a "delightful American show... the story is put across with great verve. We all know that Beverley Knight, who plays Felicia, is one of the best soul singers around, and she duly combines charisma and power." Neil Norman in the Daily Express explained the musical "mashes up several real–life characters in a buoyant if predictable story of the rise and fall of a revolutionary radio host. With songs by Bon Jovi's keyboard player David Bryan and a full–tilt cast led by the amazing Beverley Knight as Felicia this is in your face and in your ears from the get–go."
"Memphis is a likeable new show about the birth of rock'n'roll in the 1950s... Beverley Knight is outstanding as the soul singer Felicia, radiating charisma and superb on solo songs such as Colored Woman. There's a real chemistry between her and Huey Calboun (Killian Donnelly) — the heart of the story... This is a feel good show, as daft and friendly and unsophisticated as a labrador puppy, full of strong, simple emotions, as easy to read as ABC, and mixed with plenty of uplifting, if slightly perplexing, exhortations... For all that, Memphis is still a lively, good-hearted singalong. And, at times, the music is nearly enough to have you jumping out of your seat and dancing in the aisles as if you're in a Pentecostal church, a-praisin' Jesus." The Sunday Times
"[In] Joe DiPietro and David Bryan’s Tony award-winning musical... The show`s racial politics belong more to the world of The Lion King than The Scottsboro Boys and the perfunctory plot means that moments of high drama spring from nowhere, but the songs are territlc and Sergio Trujilo’s breathtaking choreography is sensationally performed by the entire company: Beverley Knight is the epitome of soul as Miss Felicia, and Killian Donnelly's Huey carries the show with his charisma and charm. Memphis seems sure to repeat its Broadway success in London." The Sunday Express
"The story centres on Huey Calhoun, a white hick DJ who blasts out 'negro music' on the local radio station while falling for Felicia, a black singer he’s discovered. Huey is played with a bonkers, manic foolery by Killian Donnelly, the perfect partner for Beverley Knight, who gives a sober and sweet-sounding Felicia. Their affair is greeted with violence and career disaster for one of them... Dramatically lightweight it may be, but David Bryan and Joe DiPietro’s pastiche score dunks you in the period more deeply than any karaoke of original hits. This is a big, noisy celebration of a musical era with plenty of swing in its hips." The Mail on Sunday
"After being crowned Best Musical at the 2010 Tony Awards, this show about the black roots of rock ‘n' roll music finally lands in the UK. Set in the segregated 1950s of Memphis, it focuses on spiky white DJ Huey Calhoun (Killian Donnelly) who falls for black nightclub singer, Felicia (Beverley Knight). The songs (by Bon Jovi's David Bryan) are unmemorable, but UK soul queen Beverley Knight's electrifying presence and incredible voice turn this show around." The Sunday Mirror
Memphis in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 9 October 2014, opened on 23 October 2014 and closed on 31 October 2015.