Elizabeth Ward Land and Antoine L. Smith to Lead MEMPHIS at North Carolina Theatre; Full Casting Announced
North Carolina Theatre has announced casting for its upcoming production of Memphis, playing March 24-29, 2020 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. North Carolina Theatre's production will be directed and choreographed by Broadway performer Robert Hartwell, and Eric Woodall is NC Theatre's producing artistic director.
From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis comes the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs, and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis follows the story of a white radio DJ who wants to change the world, a black club singer waiting for her big break, and the social issues they face. The story is loosely based on the life of Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJ's to play black music in the 1950s.
Leading the cast as Huey, the progressive, motor-mouthed white radio disc jockey, is Colby Dezelick. His previous credits include the Broadway productions of Miss Saigon (Chris understudy) and Anastasia (Dimitry understudy). Dezelick has also performed regionally at theatres including The MUNY, Goodspeed, and Ogunquit, and his television credits include CBS's Instinct. North Carolina native Desireé Murphy will portray Felicia, the fiercely gifted black club singer striving for her big break. Murphy previously starred in The Wiz (Dorothy), The Bodyguard (Nicki Marron understudy) at North Shore Music Theatre, and Sister Act at New York University Steinhardt.
Portraying Felicia's older brother, Delray, and owner of the club on Beale Street is Antoine L. Smith. An Emmy Award-winner, Smith boasts numerous Broadway credits including Carousel (2018 Tony Award-nominated production for Best Revival), Miss Saigon, Memphis, and The Color Purple (Grady/Harpo understudy). Audiences will also be able to see Smith in the new musical MJ: The Musical later this year. Broadway veteran Elizabeth Ward Land will play Huey's stern and southern mother, Gladys. Among her seven Broadway credits are Memphis and Amazing Grace, with television credits including Madam Secretary, The Blacklist, and Boardwalk Empire. Land recently completed an encore presentation of her acclaimed show, The Sound of My Voice: The Songs of Linda Ronstadt at The Green Room 42 in New York City.
Other featured roles include Avery Smith, who will portray the Delray bartender, Gator, who throughout the story grapples with his tragic childhood. Smith's previous credits include the Broadway production and first national tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Playing Mr. Simmons, the conservative owner of the radio station where Huey works, is Triangle-area artist David McClutchey, who recently starred in Theatre Raleigh's The Scottsboro Boys. North Carolina resident Curtis Moore will portray Bobby, the loveable janitor at Mr. Simmons's radio station.
Rounding out the Memphis cast are ensemble members Jacob Burns (Dance Captain), Melvin Gray Jr., Carly Grissom, Julia Harnett (Assistant Choreographer), Adelyn Harris, Chris J. Helton (Piano Player), Collin Heyward, Micah Jordan, Tyler McKenzie, Darian Moore, Gracie Phillips, Ellen Pierce, Sawyer Pollock, Devin Price (Wailin Joe), Alexia Sielo (Ethel), Hannah Smith, Karilyn Ashley Surratt, Evan Tylka, Carlita Victoria, and Collin Yates (Buck).
Hartwell will direct and choreograph Memphis at NC Theatre. He boasts numerous Broadway credits including Memphis, Motown the Musical, Hello, Dolly, and Cinderella, and the national and international tours of Dreamgirls. Hartwell is also the founder of The Broadway Collective, Inc., a musical theatre class tour that connects Broadway's finest performers with students across the country.
Memphis opens Tuesday, March 24 and runs through Sunday, March 29 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Visit nctheatre.com to purchase tickets or call (919) 831-6941. For groups of 10 or more, call (919) 831-6941 x6949. From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis comes the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs, and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis follows the story of a white radio DJ who wants to change the world, and a black club singer waiting for her big break. Come along on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves - filled with laughter, soaring emotion, and roof-raising rock 'n' roll.