Arts

Playhouse’s “Memphis” Heading To Broadway

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La Jolla Playhouse’s acclaimed 2008 musical Memphis, winner of the San Diego Critics’ Circle Outstanding New Musical Award, is on its way to Broadway. La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley, who directed the Playhouse production, will helm the New York version as well. It is scheduled to open in October.

Memphis, which played to sold-out houses at La Jolla Playhouse last fall, features music and lyrics by Bon Jovi keyboardist and founding member David Bryan, and book and additional lyrics by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, All Shook Up). This acclaimed new musical follows the life of the first white deejay who dared to play black music at the center of the radio dial. Taking place on legendary Beale Street in the early 1950s, this dynamic show explores the passion and roots of rock ’n’ roll music, featuring an original gospel, rhythm, blues and early rock score fused with a contemporary sensibility.

Watch David Bryan and Chad Kimball perform “Music of My Soul” from Memphis

Ashley was originally slated to direct the Playhouse’s fall 2009 production of The Big Time, but due to his new Memphis rehearsal schedule, the Playhouse has chosen the world premiere musical, Bonnie & Clyde, as its final show of the season.

“We are overjoyed that Memphis has found a home on Broadway,” said La Jolla Playhouse Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg. “We are confident that Bonnie & Clyde will be a sensational new musical for our audiences and a terrific finale to our 2009/10 season.”

This new theatre piece is based on the lives of Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose notorious exploits captured the country’s imagination. Bonnie & Clyde features music by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dracula), lyrics by Tony Award-winner Don Black (Sunset Boulevard, Song and Dance), book by Ivan Menchell (The Cemetery Club, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and directed by Jeff Calhoun (Deaf West’s Big River and Pippin, Grease!). This seductive and cinematic new musical examines how a troubled Texas teen and a love-sick waitress became America’s most infamous couple, with a thrilling new score that combines rockabilly, blues and gospel music.

“The timing of Memphis’ move to Broadway turns out to be wonderfully serendipitous for the Playhouse, as it allows us to bring our audiences the stunning new musical Bonnie & Clyde,” noted Ashley. “From the creative dream team of Frank Wildhorn, Don Black, Ivan Menchell and Jeff Calhoun, this theatrical gem gives audiences a fresh look at the now-mythical tale of one of the most infamous couples in history.”

The run dates for Bonnie & Clyde will be the same as the previously announced production (Nov. 10 – Dec. 20), and subscriber performance dates/time remain unchanged.

3 Comments

  1. ChristopherJ

    July 1, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I saw this show last year at LJP. It was amazing. The video clip is a great performance with David and Chad. I hope Chad is with the Broadway cast!

  2. bicoastal

    July 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Hi…I heard a rumor that someone from Monty Python’s Spamalot was offered a role, nothing about WHICH role. Have any leads? I was thinking Merle Dandridge or Tom Deckman or Clay Aiken. Thanks

  3. Jonathan Young

    July 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve been asking around to confirm if the rumors were true or not. With the help of the press reps at the La Jolla Playhouse, I was able to get a copy of the casting announcement (just released). The rumors are correct: Tony nominee Michael McGrath from Spamalot joins the Memphis cast as Mr. Simmons.

    The Broadway production of Memphis star Chad Kimball as a white deejay who introduces “black music” to radio audiences, and Montego Glover as the black singer he falls for, at the Shubert Theatre this fall. Kimball (Into the Woods, Lennon, The Civil War, My Life with Albertine) and Glover (The Color Purple, Ragtime, Aida), originated the roles of Huey Calhoun and Felicia Farrell, respectively, in the recent pre-Broadway engagements of Memphis at the La Jolla Playhouse.

    The Broadway production will also feature La Jolla cast members J. Bernard Calloway (The Good Negro, “The Taking of Pelham 123”) as Delray, James Monroe Iglehart (Spelling Bee) as Bobby, Cass Morgan (Mary Poppins, Ring of Fire) as Gladys Calhoun and Derrick Baskin (The Little Mermaid as Gator.

    The Memphis ensemble will include Jennifer Allen, Brad Bass, Tracee Beazer, Kevin Covert, Hillary Elk, Dionne Figgins, Rhett George, John Jellison, Sydney Morton, Vivian Nixon, John Eric Parker, Jermaine R. Rembert, LaQuet Sharnell, Ephraim Sykes, Cary Tedder, Danny Tidwell, Daniel J. Watts, Katie Webber, Charlie Williams and Dan’yelle Williamson.

    The musical arrives on Broadway Sept. 23 and will officially open Oct. 19.

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