Thursday, August 2, 2012
|Felicia Boswell and Bryan Fenkart. Photo by Paul Kolnik|
He falls in love with Felicia (Felicia Boswell), the beautiful black singer who performs at her brother’s club on Beale Street and promises that he will get her on the radio and make her a star. Her brother Delray (Quentin Earl Darrington) has good reason to be more than a little skeptical and when that day comes, there’s a hefty price to pay.
Both Fenkart and Boswell have covered their roles on Broadway and now get the chance to make them their own on the tour. Fenkart captures Huey’s innocence, has crazy good comic timing, and wins the audience over as he wins over Felicia, plus he sings the pants off his eleven o’clock number “Memphis Lives in Me.” Boswell is sexy, sophisticated, and a powerful singer with an extraordinary vocal range. From “Colored Women,” to “Someday” she finds all the subtle colors needed to move you with the sound of her voice.
It’s an accomplished cast full of terrific performances. From Darrington, who is a menacing and dynamic presence to the poignant performance of Gator (Rhett George), to the surprising triple threat Bobby (Will Mann), everyone gets an opportunity to take the spotlight. Julie Johnson’s transition from Huey’s prejudiced mother to a warmer, more accepting woman comes with a hell-raising revival number “Change Don’t Come Easy” and veteran actor William Parry gives a solid performance as Huey’s boss, Mr. Simmons.
Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is bursting with kinetic energy as the dancers throw themselves sensuously into each other’s arms at the club, or bounce down the street in their sneakers and teenage delirium. Director Christopher Ashley builds this world with an increasing tension that plays to the strengths of the music, the performances, and the message. And with the exception of a somewhat cheesy transition that drops the plot and cuts to the final scene, it's a satisfying, thoroughly enjoyable musical.
Especially enjoyable is the band, led by Alvin Hough, Jr., that often slides on center stage as part of the action and features local favorite Darryl Archibald as associate conductor and second keyboard. David Bryan’s music is full of catchy tunes you walk out the door singing and these musicians do it up right. A richly textured multi-leveled set, stunning lighting effects, and gorgeous jewel tone costumes complete the sensational look of the show.
Scenic design is by Tony Award-winner David Gallo; lighting design is by Tony Award-winner Howell Binkley; costume design is by Tony nominee Paul Tazewell and sound design is by Ken Travis.
MEMPHIS packs a lot into its electrifying 2 hours and 20 minutes. Stylish, upbeat, and full of heart, it's a show you'll love. MEMPHIS runs through August 12th at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. For tickets and more information go to www.BroadwayLA.org.
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11:25 PM |