The producers of the hit Broadway musical MEMPHIS announced today that the critically acclaimed production will launch a U. S. national tour in Memphis, TN. Performances will begin in October, 2011 at the Orpheum Theatre (203 South Main Street). Additional cities, dates and casting will be announced at a later date.
"On behalf of my producing partners, I am thrilled to announce that the national tour of MEMPHIS will begin at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis in October, 2011. Since the first announcement of the Broadway production, the entire city of Memphis, from its city officials to its citizens, has shown us overwhelming support and enthusiasm. We couldn't be more excited to be kicking off the tour with our friends at the Orpheum," said Sue Frost, a producer of the show.
"This is a huge coup for Memphis!" said Pat Halloran, President and CEO of The Orpheum Theatre. "This is the first time a national tour or a Broadway show has been mounted in Memphis. In addition to the enormous economic impact, this project will provide our community yet another opportunity to take pride in our rich heritage and significant place in American music history. Memphians are going to stand and cheer for Memphis, The Musical, just like the audience does every night at the famous Shubert Theatre in New York. Get ready Memphis!"
MEMPHIS takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 50's, 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.
MEMPHIS opened to critical acclaim on October 19, 2009 at Broadway's Shubert Theatre (225 W. 44th Street). Previews began on September 23rd. Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press says MEMPHIS is "The very essence of what a Broadway show should be!" David Richardson of WOR Radio calls the show "The biggest hit on Broadway" while Charles Isherwood of the New York Times says, ""David Bryan evokes the powerhouse funk of James Brown, the hot guitar riffs of Chuck Berry, the smooth harmonies of The Temptations, the silken, bouncy pop of the great girl groups of the period." The New York Post raves "Of such thrills, Broadway is made," Newsday calls the show "A smash! An extraordinary show," the Daily News promises that MEMPHIS will "Blast you out the door humming and happy" and NY1's Roma Torre cheers, "MEMPHIS ROCKS!"
The show features a brand new score with music by Bon Jovi's founding member and keyboardist David Bryan and lyrics by Bryan and Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change), who also pens the musical's book. MEMPHIS is based on a concept by the late George W. George (producer of the Tony nominated Bedroom Farce and the film My Dinner With Andre), with direction by Tony nominee Christopher Ashley (Xanadu) and choreography by Sergio Trujillo, who is currently represented by an astonishing four shows on Broadway (Memphis, Jersey Boys, Next to Normal and The Addams Family).
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 (Christopher Ashley, Artistic Director) and 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle, WA, (David Armstrong, Producing Artistic Director/ Marilynn Sheldon, Managing Director). The world premiere of MEMPHIS in 2003-2004 was co-produced by North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA and TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, CA.
Scenic Design for MEMPHIS is by Tony Award winner David Gallo (The Drowsy Chaperone, Reasons to Be Pretty), Costume Design is by Tony nominee Paul Tazewell (In The Heights), Lighting Design is by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys) and Sound Design is by Ken Travis (The Threepenny Opera).
MEMPHIS is produced on Broadway by Junkyard Dog Productions, Barbara and Buddy Freitag and Kenny and Marleen Alhadeff with Latitude Link, Jim and Susan Blair, Demos Bizar Entertainment, Land Line Productions, Apples and Oranges Productions, Dave Copley, Dancap Productions, Inc., Alex and Katya Lukianov, Tony Ponturo, 2 Guys Productions, and Richard Winkler in association with Lauren Doll, Eric and Marci Gardiner, Linda and Bill Potter, Broadway Across America, Jocko Productions, Patty Baker, Dan Frishwasser, Bob Bartner/Scott and Kaylin Union, Loraine Boyle/Chase Mishkin, Remmel T. Dickinson/Memphis Orpheum Group and ShadowCatcher Entertainment/Vijay and Sita Vashee.
Joe DiPietro (Book & Lyrics) Broadway and national tour: All Shook Up. Off-Broadway: The Toxic Avenger; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; The Thing About Men; and Over the River and Through the Woods. His play, F**king Men, recently completed record-breaking runs in London and Los Angeles. Upcoming works include the comedy, The Last Romance (Old Globe Theatre), the one-woman musical, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, and two new musicals with David Bryan. His work has had thousands of productions across the country and around the world.
David Bryan (Music & Lyrics) is a Grammy Award-winning keyboard player and founding member of Bon Jovi. Over the past 26 years, the band has sold more than 130 million records and toured the world, playing to millions of people. Their recent Lost Highway Tour was the #1-grossing tour in the world. David and Joe DiPietro have also co-written the award-winning musical The Toxic Avenger, currently playing at New World Stages. Among his work for charity, David is a national spokesperson for VH1's Save the Music Program.
Christopher Ashley (Director) is the Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, where he most recently directed Restoration by Claudia Shear. Broadway credits include Xanadu, All Shook Up and The Rocky Horror Show (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Direction). Off-Broadway credits include Blown Sideways Through Life, Jeffrey (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards), The Night Hank Williams Died, Fires in the Mirror (Lucille Lortel Award), The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Communicating Doors and The Country Club. Regional credits include Sweeney Todd (Helen Hayes Award for Direction), Merrily We Roll Along (Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration) and Without Walls (Mark Taper Forum). Film/TV credits include Jeffrey, "Blown Sideways Through Life" for PBS's "American Playhouse." Mr. Ashley is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, the Drama League Director Fellowship and an NEA/TCG Director Fellowship.
Sergio Trujillo (Choreographer) choreographed the 2006 Tony and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical Jersey Boys (Olivier, Drama Desk, Dora, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), Memphis, The Addams Family, Next to Normal, Guys and Dolls and All Shook Up on Broadway. Off-Broadway: Saved (Lucille Lortel nom.); Romeo and Juliet (Public); A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Kismet (Encores!); Salome (NYC Opera). Regional: Memphis (5th Avenue, La Jolla); The Wiz, Zhivago (La Jolla); Mambo Kings; The Marriage of Figaro (L.A. Opera); Chita and All That Jazz. International: Disney's Tarzan (World Theatre Award nom.); West Side Story, The Sound of Music (Stratford); Peggy Sue Got Married (West End); Kiss Me, Kate (Japan). TV: "Broadway: The American Musical" (PBS), "The 14th American Comedy Awards" (ABC), "Triple Sensation" (CBC). Ovation Award for Empire: A New American Musical, four Dora Award nominations in Canada.
David Gallo (Set and Co-Projections Design) His designs can be seen daily in more than one dozen cities worldwide. In addition to numerous Broadway productions, he has worked extensively in Europe and Asia. Mr. Gallo won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for The Drowsy Chaperone, and his work as the original set designer for August Wilson's later plays garnered him two additional Tony nominations. David was selected to represent American set design at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial, and his work is part of the national archive at the Smithsonian.
Howell Binkley (Lighting Design) Recent Broadway: West Side Story (2009 Tony nomination), Gypsy starring Patti LuPone, In the Heights (2008 Tony nomination), Jersey Boys, Avenue Q, The Full Monty, Parade, Kiss of the Spider Woman, How to Succeed... Extensive regional and dance designs include Parsons Dance (cofounder), the Joffrey Ballet (Billboards), the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration. Five-time Helen Hayes Award recipient; 1993 Olivier and Canadian Dora Award for Spider Woman; 2006 Henry Hewes Design Award, Outer Critics Circle and Tony Award for Jersey Boys.
Paul Tazewell (Costume Design). Broadway: Guys and Dolls; In the Heights (Tony nomination); The Color Purple (Tony nomination); Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk (Tony nomination); Caroline, or Change; A Raisin in the Sun; Drowning Crow; On the Town; Def Poetry Jam; Elaine Stritch: At Liberty; Fascinating Rhythm. Off-Broadway: Ruined; Flesh and Blood; Harlem Song; Dina Was; City Center Encores! The Wiz, Li'l Abner and Purlie.
Ken Travis (Sound Design). Broadway designs: The Threepenny Opera, Barefoot in the Park, Steel Magnolias. Numerous regional theatres and companies including 5th Avenue Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep, the Guthrie Theater, Dallas Theater Center, McCarter Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, The New Group, NYSF Public Theater, CSC, Soho Rep, the Civilians, Mabou Mines and festivals across Europe and the U.S. When not designing theatre, Ken is a FOH and monitor engineer for rock bands and groups across the globe.