Memphis the Musical

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 musical Memphis in London

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.

Musical with music by David Bryan, lyrics by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, and book by Joe DiPietro. This musical played at Broadway's Shubert Theatre in New York where in enjoyed a run of just under three years, winning four Tony Awards including 'Best Musical', 'Best Book of Musical', and 'Best Original Score'.

The original cast featured Beverley Knight as 'Felicia Farrell', Rachel John as 'Alternate Felicia Farrell', Killian Donnelly as 'Huey Calhoun', Jon Robyns as 'Alternate Huey Calhoun', Rolan Bell as 'Delray', Jason Pennycooke as 'Bobby', Tyrone Huntley as 'Gator', Claire Machin as 'Gladys', and Mark Roper as 'Mr. Simmons', with Alex Thomas, Arielle Campbell, Ashley Rumble, Benjamin Harrold, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Charlotte Gorton, Dawnita Smith, Dean Maynard, Devon McKenzie-Smith, Helen Siveter, Hillary Elk, Joseph Davenport, Keisha Atwell, Kimmy Edwards, Kyle Seeley, Laura Ellis, Mark Carroll, Momar Diagne, Simon Ray-Harvey, Tim Newman, and Waylon Jacobs.

The role of 'Felicia' was played by Beverley Knight from Thursday 9 October 2014 to Saturday 17 October 2015, except Monday evenings and Wednesday afternoon matinees, with Rachel John as 'Alternate Felicia'; and by Rachel John from Monday 19 October to Saturday 31 October 2015.

The role of 'Huey' was played by Killian Donnelly from Thursday 9 October 2014 to Saturday 4 July 2015, except Thursday evenings, with Jon Robyns as 'Alternate Huey'; and by Matt Cardle from Monday 6 July to Saturday 31 October 2015, except Wednesday afternoon matinees, with Jon Robyns as 'Alternate Huey'.

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.

Joe DiPietro's West End credits include the musical comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Comedy Theatre in 1999.

Rolan Bell's London theatre credits include the lead role of 'Ivan Martin' in Kerry Michael and Dawn Reid's production of the Perry Henzell and Trevor Rhone musical The Harder They Come at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East in 2006 and 2007, the Barbican Theatre in 2008, and at the West End's Playhouse Theatre in 2008; and 'Morrel' in Jude Kelly's revival of the Oscar Hammerstein and Georges Bizet musical Carmen Jones at the Royal Festival Hall in 2007.

Tyrone Huntley's London theatre credits include the ensemble in Timothy Sheader's revival of George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 2014.

Claire Machin's London theatre credits include 'Mabel Ellis' in Richard Eyre's revival of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross musical The Pajama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2014; and 'Mrs Metcalf' in Richard Eyre's production of the George Stiles and Anthony Drewe musical Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre in 2011.

Mark Roper's London theatre credits include 'Pumbaa the Warthog' in Julie Taymor's production of the Elton John and Tim Rice musical Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in 2014; 'Samuel' in Ian Talbot's revival of Joseph Papp's version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park in 2001; 'Wilkinson' in Ian Talbot's revival of Frank Loesser's Where's Charley? at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park in 2001; and 'Judge Turpin' in Paul Kerryson's revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd at the Royal Festival Hall in 2000.

When this production opened here at the Shaftesbury Theatre 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

"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.