Special Report: MEMPHIS 2nd Year Anniversary - Still Wows!

"HOCKADOO!" Last night, October 19th, the 2010 Tony Award-winning Best Musical MEMPHIS, celebrated its Second Anniversary on Broadway, in style, and it was a night to remember!

Souther Hospitality ribsWe started the evening off, appropriately enough, at the recently-opened (and Justin Timberlake owned) Southern Hospitality restaurant. It came as a suggestion from one of BroadwayWorld's secret weapons, our 'concierge' who definitely knows the way around town - 'restaurantally' speaking. The midtown theatre district is littered with barbecue joints, but this one is a welcome addition, in Hell's Kitchen, at the corner of 9th Avenue and 45th street.

One of the key decisions when making theatre plans, is to dine in close proximity to where your show is. Since MEMPHIS, at the Shubert Theater, was only a couple of blocks away, our 'concierge' scored an A+ last night.

Now, about the food - 'OMG!' doesn't even begin to cover it. Every single entree and side were ridiculously good and I imagine that part of that has to do with the authenticity of Timberlake's Memphis roots. (The frozen lime margaritas weren't bad either) and the portions are huge, so the value is good if you're travelling in a pack.

As a sidebar, Justin Timberlake, who is rapidly becoming a mogul in all media and can seem to do no wrong, saw the hit musical back in 2010 with another BroadwayWorld favorite, girlfriend Jessica Biel, spurring rumors of possibly being interested in starring in a film version of the musical. Another name being bandied about as attached to the project, has been film legend Oliver Stone at the helm. 

So, with stomachs happily full, we headed over to the Shubert Theater on a rainy night. The mood in the lobby and the audience was fantastically upbeat for this beloved show. I'm happy to report that MEMPHIS, which I originally saw in previews, is in great shape, with performances, choreography, scenic elements, lighting and costumes in as sharp of shape as any show on Broadway could ever hope to be. Also, it's always nice to be in a theatre when a standing ovation happens spontaneously. 

From the theater we headed over to a Second Anniversary celebration for cast, family, friends and everyone associated with the production, which was held a few blocks away, at another great space that you may or may not know about called Glass House Tavern. The party was multi-tiered, very classy, with plenty of food and drink and 'celebration' in the air. It was a party full of smiles and pride at an achievement that seems to have no end in sight. The other thing that I must say, that I observed, is that this entire cast genuinely seems to love and adore each other and get along really well both onstage and off. So, I'm going to coin a phrase here, and say that's 'very MEMPHIS'. 

Interestingly enough, the U.S. National Touring Production of MEMPHIS opened just days before at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN. (Click here to check out BWW TV coverage of the cast visiting Elvis Presley's legendary home, Graceland). For more information on the Broadway and Tour productions, visit www.MemphisTheMusical.com

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Robert Diamond Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 30 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more.

The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine.

Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.)

As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need.

Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week.

Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also writes weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog.

In December of last year, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School.