The 2010 Tony Award-winning Best Musical MEMPHIS will play its final performance on Broadway today, August 5, 2012, after 30 previews and 1,166 regular performances. MEMPHIS opened on October 19, 2009 at Broadway's Shubert Theatre (225 W. 44th Street), having begun previews on September 23rd. BroadwayWorld takes you on a journey through the birth of rock 'n roll on Broadway with highlights from MEMPHIS' incredible run!
MEMPHIS takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 50's, where a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun fell in love with everything he shouldn't: rock and roll and an electrifying black singer. MEMPHIS is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever.
The show featured a brand new, Tony winning score with music by Bon Jovi's founding member and keyboardist David Bryan and lyrics by Bryan and Tony-winner Joe DiPietro, who also penned the musical's book. Bryan and DiPietro also collaborated on the award-winning off-Broadway hit, The Toxic Avenger. MEMPHIS is based on a concept by the late George W. George, with direction by Tony nominee Christopher Ashley and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.
MEMPHIS currently stars Tony Nominee Adam Pascal (Huey) and Tony Nominee Montego Glover (Felicia) with Derrick Baskin (Gator), J. Bernard Calloway (Delray), James Monroe Iglehart (Bobby), John Jellison (Mr. Simmons), and Nancy Opel (Mama). The company also features Darius Barnes, Carmen Shavone Borders, Angela C. Brydon, Sam J. Cahn , Erica Dorfler, Preston W. Dugger III, Sasha Hutchings, Lauren Lim Jackson, Tyrone Jackson, Elizabeth Ward Land, Bryan Langlitz, Kevin Massey , Candice Monet McCall, David McDonald, Monette McKay, Andy Mills, Justin Patterson, Jermaine R. Rembert, Ken Robinson, Jamison Scott, Antoine L. Smith, Betsy Struxness, Cody Williams, and Dan'yelle Williamson.
MEMPHIS played a limited, sold-out engagement at La Jolla Playhouse from August 19 – September 28, 2008 and received San Diego's Craig Noel Awards for Excellence in Theatre for both Outstanding New Musical of 2008 and for its star Chad Kimball, in the role of DJ Huey Calhoun. The show then played another critically-acclaimed, extremely successful engagement at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre from January 27 – February 15, 2009. This production was co-produced by La Jolla Playhouse and 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle, Wash. The world premiere of MEMPHIS in 2003-2004 was co-produced by North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Mass., and TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, Calif.
After beginning previews at Broadway's Shubert Theatre on September 23, 2009, MEMPHIS opened on the Great White Way on October 19, 2009, starring Chad Kimball (Huey Calhoun) and Montego Glover (Felicia Farrell) with Derrick Baskin (Gator), J. Bernard Calloway (Delray Jones), James Monroe Iglehart (Bobby), Tony nominee Michael McGrath (Mr. Simmons), and Cass Morgan (Gladys Calhoun).
BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge was on hand to capture all the excitement and celebration of opening night. Watch interviews with the cast and creative team, plus highlights from the show below!
The colorful Gypsy Robe, embellished with mementos from Broadway musicals, is presented to the cast member who has the most Broadway chorus credits. Recent Gypsy Robe honoree, BYE BYE BIRDIE's Paula Leggett Chase, passed the special Broadway garment on to John Jellison backstage before MEMPHIS' opening night performance.
Before the show had hit 100 performances, the cast of MEMPHIS recorded its Original Broadway Cast Recording at Avatar Studios on November 16, 2009. "I've made a lot of albums but this one is really special to me," composer David Bryan said. "MEMPHIS is about the birth of rock n roll, and to go into a studio with our amazing cast and kick-ass band is something I've been looking forward to for a long time." Check out some photos of the cast in the studio.
When the show did reach its 100th performance on January 14, 2010, MEMPHIS celebrated at Justin Timberlake's restaurant, Southern Hospitality, following the curtain. The first 100 people who bought tickets at the Shubert Box Office on Thursday, January 14th received a free copy newly released MEMPHIS cast album.
As MEMPHIS popularity and success grew, many celebrities visited the show, including Michelle Obama, her mother and her daughters Malia and Sasha. Before its 200th performance on April 10, 2010, MEMPHIS announced it would embark on a national tour beginning-where else?-in Memphis, Tenn., on October 11, 2011.
Awards season rolled around in May 2010, and at May 23rd's Drama Desk Awards, MEMPHIS took home top honors for best original production. In a surprise twist, the Drama Desk honored both Montego Glover and Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music) with coveted award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.
After the Drama Desk wins, MEMPHIS began gearing up for the 2010 Tony Awards. Below is the first part of "Tonys Unplugged," featuring MEMPHIS! The series showcased songs from the Best Musical nominees performed in an intimate setting. Here, Montego Glover Sings "Love Will Stand When All Else Fails" accompanied by David Bryan.
MEMPHIS took away the 2010 Tony for Best Musical. The show was the big winner of the night in the musical category, earning additional honors for Best Book, Best Score and Best Orchestrations. Check out a photo from the after-party and watch the musical's performance at the Tonys below!
MEMPHIS celebrated its one-year anniversary on Broadway on October 19, 2010. The principal actors of MEMPHIS announced they would continue with the show for another year; Tony nominees Chad Kimball and Montego Glover, with Derrick Baskin, J. Bernard Calloway, and James Monroe Iglehart extended their contracts through September 2011. Cass Morgan and Michael McGrath also continued in their roles.
Cass Morgan and Michael McGrath left the show in March 2011. Nancy Opel joined the cast as "Mama" along with current cast member John Jellison taking over the role of "Mr. Simmons" the same day, March 15, 2011. Just before they took the stage in the musical, on March 10, 2011, Montego Glover and Chad Kimball celebrated the unveiling of their Sardi's caracitures.
After winning four 2010 Tony Awards, MEMPHIS returned to perform at the 2011 Tony Awards ceremony. In the video below, the cast rehearses for their appearance!
Still, MEMPHIS' run wasn't always smooth. Star Chad Kimball had to take an indefinite hiatus beginning on October 23, 2011, due to nerve damage suffered in his neck as a result of performing the demanding role of "Huey Calhoun" eight nights a week.
Broadway veteran Adam Pascal took over the role of "Huey" from October 25th last year, just after MEMPHIS celebrated its second year on the Great White Way. On October 20th, fans and press got a special preview as Pascal performed numbers from the show at the Shubert Theatre for the first time with the cast. Watch below!
What follows is more footage and photo coverage of Pascal's debut in MEMPHIS!
Hockadoo! After more than two successful years on Broadway, MEMPHIS celebrated 1,000 performances on March 14th, 2012, at the matinee performance.
The 2010 Tony Award-winning Best Musical MEMPHIS will recoup its $12 million investment as of its final performance on Broadway today, August 5, 2012, after 30 previews and 1,166 regular performances.
MEMPHIS takes its final Broadway bows boasting a long list of awards, including four 2010 Tony Awards-Best Musical, Best Original Score (David Bryan and Joe DiPietro), Best Book (Joe DiPietro), and Best Orchestrations (David Bryan and Daryl Waters). The show also won four Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Performance by an Actress (Montego Glover), Outstanding Music (David Bryan) and Outstanding Orchestration (David Bryan and Daryl Waters). In addition, MEMPHIS took home Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Score (David Bryan & Joe DiPietro), Outstanding Actress (Montego Glover) and Outstanding Choreography (Sergio Trujillo).
MEMPHIS launched its successful multi-city U.S. national tour in its namesake Memphis, Tenn., which opened to critical acclaim on October 16, 2011, at the historic Orpheum Theatre. It has been playing to packed houses ever since and recently announced its second year. Planning is underway for a West End production of MEMPHIS, and we can't wait!