I absolutely love musicals and going to the theatre (I'm a total musical geek), and so I just have to share this one with you. I've previously written about my love for musicals and the theatre in some of my previous posts (Les Miserables here, and Phantom of the Opera here, and then more recently Twelve Angry Men here), but I've seen so many more musicals that I just haven't written about. But, well, Memphis the Musical was one of the best I've seen.
Mimi and I have been friends since we were about 14 years old. We just clicked in German class, and pretty soon we were causing mayhem and mischief in every lesson we had together. We were the disruptive kids and generally just a total pain in the arse for every teacher we had in German, Science, and Maths. The three subjects we found really difficult. Looking back now we both feel absolutely awful for being such a pain, but at the time we thought it was hilarious. We always joke that we have to stay friends because we each know too much about the other.
The teachers we had in those classes all told the two of us that because of our behaviour and bad grades we would never do anything with our lives. Mimi was always obsessed with Drama and absolutely thrived in her Drama lessons, while I thrived in my English lessons. Whenever Mimi told anyone she wanted to be an actress, the teachers would laugh at her and tell her she was just dreaming.
Well. There's a reason I asked Mimi to come along and see Memphis with me on the gala press night. She completely adores Beverley Knight, like, adores her. Mimi is also a pretty amazing singer, and also an amazing actress. Those teachers who told her she was just dreaming? Well they're gonna get the shock of their lives next year when they see her in the new Tarzan movie, as well as a regular character in Mr Selfridge (make sure you keep an eye out for her - she's gonna be huge!).
Anyway, the press night was the press night for Matt Cardle's run as Huey Calhoun, as he's just taken over from Killian Donnelly. Before the show we started our evening with dinner at The Diner, we both had buttermilk fried chicken burgers and sweet potato fries, and they were so yummy and exactly what we needed! I also had an oreo milkshake, because, ya know, go big or go home right?
We didn't realize the time as we were so busy catching up, so when I realised how late is was I sort of screamed at our waiter that we needed the bill 'right now!' :/ woops. He was absolutely lovely and brought it over straight away!
We hurried over to the theatre and after a bit of an issue with the tickets due to miscommunication between the different agencies, we were finally in our seats (which were amazing - second row of the Royal Circle) right as they sung the very first note.
Straight away we were blown away. When Beverley Knight started singing Mimi and I just looked at each other and did that 'sitting-down-fluttering-hands-excited-thing'. The power. Her voice had me utterly mesmerized and Mimi's 'glory-hand' kept flying up whenever she hit a big note. Before we went to see Memphis I had no idea what the storyline was, all I knew was that after seeing them win an award and perform a number at the Olivier Awards a coupla months ago, I needed to see this musical.
The story is all about a black bar singer Felicia Farrell (Beverley Knight), who sings in her brothers jazz club on Beale Street in Memphis, and a white guy who can't hold down a job called Huey Calhoun (Matt Cardle). Set in the 1950's when racism and segregation was rife, Huey falls in love with Felicia and promises her that he'll get her voice on the radio. He manages to get a job as a DJ for a local radio station because he plays real R&B music, or 'race' music, which all the kids love and the ratings go crazy!
I won't tell you too much as I don't want to ruin it for you, but the story follows their relationship and careers, and the reactions to their relationship from various people. At times I cried from sheer disgust, at times I cried and laughed from the happiness that the show made me feel. It's such a feel good musical and the entire way through I had my arms crossed because I just wanted to get up and dance. Without crossing my arms I'm pretty sure I would have been on my feet annoying the people behind me.
|Photo by Johan Persson|
The show is full of soul music, rock and roll, and rhythm and blues, as well as Gospel, and every single number just blew me away. The talent in that cast is insane, and I can absolutely promise you, that you will not regret seeing Memphis. I was so surprised at how good Matt Cardle was, I voted for him on the X Factor but wasn't sure how his acting would be. He was a complete natural as the clumsy but lovable Huey and provided a sensational performance that had me believing every word he said.
After giving them a standing ovation we walked out of the theatre on such a high, and walked back to the tube station in such deep discussion about how good it was that we didn't see our waiter from earlier in the evening...until he shouted 'night ladies!' and we sprung into 'Oh, hiiii' and quickly straightened up from our food baby slouching/waddling.
You can find out more and get tickets on the website here. Go! You will not regret it! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go and look at my photos from when I went to Memphis ten years ago, because after hearing all that music, I just wanna get on a plane and head right on back to Beale Street!
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*Our tickets were complimentary, this does not in any way influence my views. It really is a rockin' toe-tapping show!