Catch the "Mmephis" Beat


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Put away your Perry Como sweater, let Patty Page sit in the window with a doggy and watch Roy Rogers gallop away on Trigger because there’s a new musical sound in town and that town is Memphis. The time is the early 1950’s and get ready for the rafters to rise and ring!

These big changes are all due to Huey Calhoun, an unusual disc jockey on the radio, who doesn’t let the fact that he’s a high school dropout, young, naive and a pasty white get in his way. He has wandered into some underground nightclubs where the Negro music he hears sets his heart and feet pumping and he can’t wait to share it with the world, whether the world is ready for it or not.

This Tony Award-winning 2010 Best Musical -- “Memphis”- is bringing its exuberant excitement to the Ivoryton Playhouse until Sunday, August 30. With music and book by David Bryan (Bon Jovi) and Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys), get ready for the lowdown jive of rhythm and blues and rock and roll to break excitedly into the light of day.

Defying his ultra-conservative radio station owners, this adventurous kid risks it all to play music that has been termed “racial” and inadvertently starts a sensation on the air.  Discovering a new black singer Felicia, he also finds love for the first time, in a relationship forbidden by society, one that he must keep hidden. Carson Higgins is great as Huey, imbued with conviction and spirit, one he uses to convince Felicia, a dynamic Renee Jackson, that he has the power to make her a star. If she is a non-believer, than her brother Delray (Teren Carter) has a heart like the biblical Pharoah’s.

Tunes like “Memphis Lives,” “Say a Prayer” and “The Music of My Soul” focus on the passion this new sound engenders in Huey and underscore the tensions and conflicts of integration at that time and that place. Hold on to your bobby sox as this musical and dance feast for the eyes, ears and feet rocks and rolls itself into your heart. Todd L. Underwood directs a stellar cast, with super musical direction by Michael Morris, scenic design by Martin Scott Marchitto and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina.

For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20 and children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860- 767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.  Performances are  Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Get into the groove with this “West Side Story” tale of forbidden love that tells the true tale of a DJ whose passion for a bogey beat sets a town to sizzle. Shout out “hockadoo."


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