BWW Reviews: MEMPHIS at the Capitol Theatre is Smoldering and Soul-Stirring

BWW Reviews: MEMPHIS at the Capitol Theatre is Smoldering and Soul-Stirring

The 2010 Tony Award-winning Best Musical MEMPHIS is currently playing a smoldering, soul-stirring run at the Capitol Theatre.

MEMPHIS (book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music and lyrics by David Bryan) is loosely based on the true story of one of the first white disc jockeys to play black music on the radio in Memphis, Tennessee. Set in the 1950s, it chronicles the rise of eccentric DJ Huey Calhoun, who fights for racial integration through music. Even when he sees success, his struggle is never over, especially when it is complicated by his relationship with black singer Felicia Farrell.

The music of MEMPHIS is authentic rhythm and blues from the period that is always wonderfully soulful, if not always completely tuneful (though there are some terrific standout numbers). The story is always gratifyingly engaging, if not always entirely satisfying (though there are some haunting scenes that will long stay with you). It may not be the greatest achievement in musical theatre, but the show draws the audience immersively into its world and makes us care about the people, the place, and the music unique to them. For this reason, a visit to MEMPHIS is well worth it.

Joey Elrose (Huey) strikes the perfect balance between uneducated simpleton and charismatic local celebrity. His rendition of Huey is a well-rounded, likeable character with an open heart and a great voice to boot.

Jasmin Richardson (Felicia) wowed audiences at the Capitol Theatre last year with her phenomenal performance as Deena in DREAMGIRLS. This time around she brings more of the same with shimmering vocals and raw emotion that stuns and smolders.

The supporting performers are all uniformly excellent, including RaMond Thomas (Delray), D. Scott Withers (Mr. Simmons), Avionce Hoyles (Gator), Jerrial T. Young (Bobby), and Pat Sibley (Mama).

The ensemble (including local favorite, BYU alum Oyoyo Joi Bonner) is incredibly impressive--individually and as a cohesive unit. Their dancing is especially extremely tight and polished, and it is a complete joy to watch throughout the show. The fantastic choreography by Sergio Trujillo, recreated here by Jermaine R. Rembert, is the centerpiece of the musical.

Also worthy of praise are the versatile, textured set design by David Gallo, the complementary lighting design by Howell Binkley, and the period costume design by Paul Tazewell.

MEMPHIS plays the Capitol Theatre for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 1, 2014. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit

Photo Credit: L-R Jasmin Richardson (Felicia) and Joey Elrose (Huey) with the National Touring Cast of MEMPHIS. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

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