It was announced today that MEMPHIS, a new musical about the birth of rock 'n' roll in the turbulent 50s which recently played a critically acclaimed and sold-out engagement at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, is aiming to open on Broadway in the fall of 2009. Based on a concept by George W. George (producer of the Tony nominated Bedroom Farce & film: My Dinner With Andre), MEMPHIS features a book & lyrics by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change), and music & lyrics by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan, in his Broadway debut. The new musical is directed by Tony nominee Christopher Ashley (Xanadu) and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys).
"Our audience went crazy for Memphis. Not since Hairspray had we seen this kind of response to a brand new musical. Memphis's combination of dynamic music, exciting staging, and moving story really got Seattle buzzing about the show -- and they haven't stopped yet," said David Armstrong, Producing Artistic Director of Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre.
Featuring an original score brimming with gospel, rhythm & blues, and early rock 'n' roll fused with Byran's own contemporary sensibility, MEMPHIS follows the fictionalized life story of young, white radio disc jockey Huey Calhoon growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950's. An unlikely hero with a great love of the music he hears in the black bars on Beale Street, Huey's on-air antics and unstoppable enthusiasm for "race records" creates a new white audience for African-American music. His personal life transcends the race line as well, when he falls in love with a beautiful black singer - with dramatic consequences.
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 went on to 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).
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) and lighting design is by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys).
MEMPHIS will be produced on Broadway by Junkyard Dog Productions and Barbara and Buddy Freitag in association with Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff, Demos Bizar Entertainment and Dancap Productions.
Additional creative team members and cast to be announced shortly.
David Bryan (Music& Lyrics) As the keyboard player, songwriter and founding member of Bon Jovi, David Bryan has seen and learned a lot about music and the music business in the past 20 years. The journey includes selling 100 million albums, traveling the world and playing to millions of people in 50 countries, circling the globe 15 times and living through the rock and roll years, the grunge years, the rap years and everything in between. As the band celebrates its 20th year together with the release of the box set, "100,000,000 BON JOVI FANS CAN'T BE WRONG", David is enjoying the schedule being a member of such a successful band allows. In his time off from recording and touring with Jon, Richie and Tico, David began a career as a composer and lyricist of musicals. Aside from Memphis, David also collaborated with Joe DiPietro on a musical version of The Toxic Avenger, which begins previews Off -Broadway on March 18, 2009. David has also written and released a solo record, Lunar Eclipse (Rounder/Universal) an instrumental collection with a single vocal bonus track highlighting all of the aspects of his training and influences - blues, classical, jazz and of course, rock & roll. In addition to writing songs for Bon Jovi, David continues to write with and for other artists. The most successful cover of a Bryan song may be Curtis Steiger's rendition of "This Time", which was a major International hit for him. David has also dedicated his time to become a National Spokesperson for VH1's Save The Music Program, traveling across the country to many of the 43 cities which participated in the program in 2001. He is also and Honorary Board Member of "Only Make Believe", a program dedicated to the principle that freeing a child's creative spirit is a valuable part of the healing process.
Joe DiPietro (Book & Lyrics) Broadway: All Shook Up. Off-Broadway: The Thing About Men (also with composer Jimmy Roberts), Over the River and Through the Woods. Regional: Memphis (North Shore Music Theatre, TheatreWorks), O. Henry's Lovers (Goodspeed Musicals), The Kiss at City Hall (Pasadena Playhouse), The Art of Murder (Edgar Award, Best Mystery Play, 2000). He has also written new books to Rodgers & Hammerstein's Allegro (Signature Theatre) and Rodgers & Hart's Babes in Arms (Goodspeed Musicals). Upcoming: The Toxic Avenger (Beginning previews Off-Broadway at New World Stages on March 18, 2009)
Christopher Ashley (Director) Recent: Xanadu, All Shook Up, The Rocky Horror Show (Tony nom.), Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along for the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration (Helen Hayes Award). Other NY: Valhalla, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and Blown Sideways Through Life (NYTW); Regrets Only, Between Us, Wonder of the World, Newyorkers (MTC); Fires in the Mirror (Public); Jeffrey, Das Barbecü (Minetta Lane); Country Club, As Thousands Cheer, Rude Entertainment, Mondo Drama (Drama Dept.); The Smell of the Kill (Helen Hayes); Voices in the Dark (Broadhurst); Communicating Doors (Variety Arts); Bunny Bunny (Lucille Lortel); Li'l Abner (Encores!); The Naked Truth, Watbanaland, The Night Hank Williams Died (WPA). Film: Jeffrey (Orion Pictures), Blown Sideways Through Life (American Playhouse). He was recently appointed Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse.
Sergio Trujillo (Choreographer) choreographed the 2006 Tony Award Best Musical Jersey Boys (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), Guys and Dolls and All Shook Up on Broadway. Recent credits include: Memphis ( LJ Playhouse), Saved(Playwright's Horizons), Next to Normal (Second Stage), Romeo and Juliet,The Wiz and Zhivago(LJ Playhouse), Mambo Kings, Disney's European Tarzan, Kismet and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Encores!), Peggy Sue Got Married (West End), Kiss Me Kate (Japan) The Sound of Music, West Side Story (Stratford Festival), Chita Rivera's: Chita and All That Jazz, Salome (NYC Opera), The Marriage of Figaro (LA Opera), Ballet Hispanico. TV: Broadway: The American Musical(PBS), The 14th American Comedy wards(ABC),Triple Sensation(CBC). Recipient of a 2003 Ovation Award for outstanding choreography in Empire: A New American Musical and three Dora Mavor Moore nominations in Canada. Upcoming on Broadway: The Adams Family and Memphis.
David Gallo (Scenic Designer) Broadway: Xanadu, A Catered Affair, Radio Golf (Tony nom.), Company, The Drowsy Chaperone (2006 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), Gem of the Ocean (Tony nom.), Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Dance of the Vampires, Thoroughly Modern Millie (also London), King Hedley II, Epic Proportions, A View From the Bridge, Jackie (also London) and Hughie. Off-Broadway: Evil Dead, The Wild Party, Jitney (also London), Wonder of the World, A New Brain, Bunny Bunny and Blue Man Group. Drama Desk, American Theatre Wing, Lucille Lortel, Hewes Design, Outer Critics Circle, Ovation, NAACP, AUDELCO, Obie, Barrymore and Eddy Awards and nominations. Represented American set design at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial and is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute National Archive.
Paul Tazewell (Costume Designer) B'way: Guys & Dolls, In The Heights (Tony nom), The Color Purple (Tony nom.); Hot Feet; Caroline, or Change; A Raisin in the Sun; Drowning Crow; Bring in 'da Noise...(Tony nom.); Elaine Stritch: At Liberty; On the Town; Fascinating Rhythm; Def Poetry Jam. Off-B'way: RUINED, In the Heights, McReele, Flesh and Blood, Fame, Boston Marriage, Harlem Song, Dinah Was. Three Helen Hayes Awards plus Lucille Lortel, Ovation, Jefferson, Princess Grace and Irene Sharaff awards.
Howell Binkley (Lighting Designer) B'way works include: West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, In the Heights (2008 Tony nomination), Gypsy, Xanadu, Jersey Boys (2006 Tony Award, Henry Hewes Design Award and Outer Critics Circle Award), Avenue Q, The Farnsworth Invention, Minnelli on Minnelli, The Full Monty, Parade, Kiss Of The Spider Woman, High Society and How To Succeed... Extensive regional and dance designs include: Parsons Dance (co-founder), The Joffrey Ballet (Billboards) and six musicals in repertory for The Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration. Five time Helen Hayes Award recipient. 1993 Sir Laurence Olivier Award and Canadian Dora Award for Kiss of The Spider Woman.