From Broadway to London: Memphis The Musical

Memphis The Musical is a riot of rhythm and blues, red-hot romance, revolution, and toe-tapping tunes.

David Bryan might be more at home rocking a stadium as the keyboard player of Bon Jovi, rather than working on a musical show. But ever since "Memphis The Musical," which he co-wrote, won four Tony awards on Broadway, that may all change.

Today, the Rock ‘n‘ Roll Book Of Clichés is being rewritten and it‘s becoming more commonplace for musicians, from Sir Elton John to Boy George, to see if they can hit the right notes in musical theatre. To help him, Bryan has even enlisted the help of frontman Jon Bon Jovi to co-write the catchy "Memphis Lives In Me." 

Memphis The Musical at London's Shaftesbury Theatre
It takes two... (©Chris Owyoung)

Inspired by true events that took place in the underground world of dance clubs in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950s, the show tells the story of radio disc jockey Huey Calhoun, played by Killian Donnelly, who was one of the first white DJs to play black music. He soon meets Felicia (Beverley Knight), a club singer hoping to make her big break. Inevitably, romance soon began.

Beverley Knight stars in Memphis the Musical
Beverley Knight also appeared on London's stage in The Bodyguard. (©Helen Maybanks)

Killian Donnelly has starred in the West End productions of "Billy Elliot" and "The Commitments." Beverley Knight is one of Britian‘s biggest soul artists, but she is no stranger to the West End: she previously made her mark in "The Bodyguard," and now returns with a powerful vocal performance.

Memphis The Musical previously ran for nearly three years on Broadway prior to this London run, and enjoyed rave reviews. But with new musicals, even from the  likes of Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Simon Cowell, closing sooner than expected in the West End, all eyes will be on this show to see how well it performs in London.

The musical is a soaring symphony of soul and, at times, it feels like you are watching The Temptations or Chuck Berry on set. The original score, however, is what sets this show apart from jukebox musicals, and proves for the likes of Bryan that it really is just all about good music.

Memphis The Musical in London
A soaring, feel-good show of David Bryan's original music (©Chris Owyoung)