Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy anniversary, Memphis

Happy anniversary to Memphis, which opened one year ago tonight. What a journey and what an interesting example of how long a musical can gestate before it reaches Broadway.

The show was based on a concept by producer George W. George and the first workshop was held at TheatreWorks in California's Silicon Valley in 2002. The premiere took place year later at the North Shore Music Theatre, north of Boston, which closed but has since reopened. George passed away in 2007.

Along the way, changes were made to the story and there was an out-of-town tryout in Seattle prior to the musical's 2009 Broadway debut.

But the two leads - Chad Kimball and Montego Glover - remained in place. And Memphis went on to win the 2010 Tony for Best Musical. Last week, it took in more than $1 million at the box office for the first time.

When I saw Memphis in December I thought it was very entertaining, with terrific choreography by Sergio Trujillo. It's an absorbing story, about a white dj who falls in love with a talented black singer in the segregated South of the 1950s.

Memphis isn't perfect - I had problems with some aspects of Joe DiPetro's book. But Kimball and Glover turn in powerful, memorable performances. And they've just extended their contracts with the show for another year.

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