- The Broadway musicals that are part of the Marcus Center for
the Performing Arts series are all good, but there is often a
flaw here and there with an actor or singer who doesn’t
measure up to the rest, occasionally a glitch in the sound
system or a set change that doesn’t go smoothly.
“Memphis,” playing through Sunday, is the ultimate
success. It is truly awesome (a word that is used for many
things that don’t deserve it), but this show does earn that
leads, Bryan Fenkhart as Huey and Felicia Boswell as Felicia,
were beyond talented. They were astonishing. Boswell for her
beauty, her energy, her voice which could do everything well,
and Huey for his infectious humor and likeability and guts. In
the first 10 minutes of the show, one could sense that we were
in for a treat.
is a winner of four Tony awards and received other
nominations, as well. It is the hottest new musical to hit the
stage in years. Based on a true story of a guy named Dewey
Phillips, a white guy who loved black R&B, a guy who had
the guts to wander onto Beale Street and actually enter a club
who catered to blacks only, a guy who eventually got his own
gig on a radio station in Memphis and played music that
appealed to both whites and blacks, which was quite an
innovation in the 1950s. He inspired this story.
only did he cross the line there, but he fell in love with
Felicia, a black singer, an even bigger taboo at that time. So
we have a good story line, rife with conflict and headed
toward change. R&B and rock ‘n’ roll merged in the
‘50s, and music has never been the same.
show is probably too new to predict if any individual numbers
will survive the show as independent pieces. There are many
impressive tunes such as “Make Me Stronger,” “Someday”
and “Say a Prayer,” to name a few, but the biggest
production numbers, such as “Memphis Lives in Me” and
“Steal Your Rock and Roll,” will probably always be tied
to this show.
athletic and perfectly choreographed and executed dancing was
a thrill to watch, thanks to the arrangements of August
Eriksmoen, the skill of choreographer Sergio Trujillo and the
precision and energy of
the dance ensemble.
soloists beyond the two leads were all strong - Horace V.
Rogers, Rhett George and Will Mann. Without exception, all the
singers could also dance and move with ease. Tami Dahbura,
who played Huey’s Mama, knocked us out with the power of her
voice. Her size belied its strength.
frequent changing of the sets was very smoothly achieved by
David Gallo, Paul Tazewell’s costumes were colorful and
shimmery and Howell Binkley’s lighting design created many
auras. Director Christopher Ashley witnessed a flawless
whoops from the audience attested to how fully the patrons
were enjoying every scene, every dance, every number.
really hated to see it end.
runs through Sunday at the Marcus Center for the Performing
Arts, 929 N. Water St., Milwaukee. Call 414-272-7121 for