A heartfelt jukebox musical bursting with talent and charm.
Having some friends over from the states, they obviously wanted to see a West End show. They asked what was the most dance heavy show in town and based on word of mouth and reviews I have read Memphis seemed like the obvious choice.
For those of you that don’t know about the show here is a little blurb for you :
After a hit run on broadway Memphis opened at the Shaftesbury theatre in 2014. The show is Inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee. The show follows the story of Huey ( Matt Cardle ) an up and coming radio DJ who wants to change the way that people view music and therefore the way people view race and culture. Huey’s journey introduces us to a talented club singer Felicia Farrel ( Beverly Knight ) who is more then ready for her big break in the music industry. Touching on themes of love, hope and racial integration to name a few and all accompanied by some amazing songs, Memphis is a fantastic upbeat, colourful (in every sense of the word) musical.
As mentioned above Beverly Knight plays the role of Felicia Ferrel. This woman is a vocal power house, coming from a pop background Knight has made her stamp on the West End. First with The Body Guard and now Memphis, Knight doesn’t falter as she wows the audience with such superb vocals and great acting. She is joined on stage by Matt Cardle who gives a charming performance as Huey. Cardle really surprised me, I guess like most people from the reality TV competition genre they sadly get chewed out so quickly with the product actually being the show not the winner/individual. But I am pleased to say Cardle is a great assist to the show and plays his character down to a tee. He has come out of the reality tv void and on top form in this show.
The show has no weak links, each cast member brings a tremendous amount of energy and charisma to the show, which in turn really increases the enjoyment factor of Memphis. It is a great showcase for all of the ensemble whether it be through acting, the amazing upbeat choreography or tumbling tricks from some of the male cast members. The choreography is one for the cardio, there are technical elements to some of the dance routines but for the most part it is high energy choreography going for the impact and visual of that era.
Memphis had the same buzz and energy as a show in it’s opening week. Often shows/performances can sometimes get stale due to the repetition but this show has been in swing for a while and had such a crisp excitable energy to it. This reflects well on not only the cast , musicians and technical team but also the dance captain and resident choreographer.
A clever use of set really helps transport us between seedy club to radio station and beyond. The same with the costumes, giving us both the glitz and glam when needed and also the humble Tennessee look. Mentions also go to the lightning and sound team. Performing to a live band always makes you perform more in my eyes and aided by the lighting team you could sense the great atmosphere on stage. It was infection as the audition were having a little party in the standing ovation at the end.
Overall such a great show, whether its for a hen night, if you’re fan of blues and jazz music or just good old theatre lovers, make sure you check it out.
You can book tickets and find out more information on their website: