Sunday, November 13, 2011


By Nancy Condit

Felicia Boswell, who played Felicia on Broadway, sings one of the songs in the finale of "Memphis."
Photo provided

The musical "
Memphis" opened an eight performance run Tuesday night to an enthusiastic, almost full house at the Civic Center Music Hall Tuesday night. The singing was terrific, and the dancing excellent to David Bryan, Bon Jovi's founding member and keyboardist, and Joe DiPietro's, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, new score about love, music and the beginnings of rock and roll in 1950"s Memphis.

Live music accompanied the show in the form a juke joint/orchestra nine piece The Memphis Band, with two keyboards, drums, a guitar, bass, trumpet, trombone, and two reeds.

Felicia Boxwell, who played the female lead of Felicia on Broadway, was excellent, as the show explored the roots of rock and roll from gospel to the blues to jazz to ballads to a song with a touch of opera.  Bryan Fenkart as Huey, the male lead, sang well, and played the role of one the passionate people who discovered negro music -- "
Memphis shows me how this life has to be.  Memphis lives in me.  Listen to the beat, to your soul" he sings at the show's end, after the love he and Felicia falls apart because the times won't allow it.

The standout of the second act was Julie Johnson, who belted out "Change Don't Come Easy" as she testified after going to a black church for the first time in her life.  Huey's mama, who was so appalled with his being with a dark girl, had herself changed.

Technically notable are the scenic design by Tony® Award winner David Gallo’s and
lighting design by Tony® Award winner Joe Dipietro.  Gallo’s two level box set allows action to take place on the stage and on the second level. 

Memphis" has more humor than other musicals, like "Hairspray," about integration, and, for that reason alone, it's is a better show, or perhaps it may show that peoples get on with life.  I leave it to audience members to make that decision.

Note: The
Civic Center ushers, who are volunteers, and extremely courteous and conscientious.

Memphis,”presented by Celebrity Attractions, runs through November 13th.  Tickets may be purchased via phone (800) 869-1451, (405) 297-2264, in person at the Civic Center Music Hall Box Office or online at

Remaining shows in Celebrity Attractions 2011-2012 Broadway Season includes THE ADDAMS FAMILY, STOMP, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, the add-on productions of MAMMA MIA! and the
Tulsa engagement of JERSEY BOYS.

c. Nancy Condit

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