Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beyond the Stage: MEMPHIS Hits London Tonight!

If you do nothing else today, check out this video that the Memphis Convention and Visitor's Bureau (Memphis CVB) put together in partnership with Memphis the Musical.  Here Beverley Knight, star of the London production, visits Memphis to do research for her role.  If this doesn't inspire city pride, nothing will!  Well, almost nothing...

A few months ago, our own Orpheum President and CEO Pat Halloran announced that Memphis The Musical would be gracing London's famous West End (our Broadway equivalent).  That time has finally come, and Memphis The Musical opens tonight, Thursday, October 23rd, in London!

This Tony winning title written by Joe DiPietro and Bon Jovi's David Bryan, continues to give back to its namesake by marketing Memphis as a tourist destination full of rich history, rich music, and rich food (ok, so maybe it doesn't talk too much about the food, but it's hard to experience Memphis without some BBQ)!  However, this musical takes it a step further by giving folks a taste of our city's soul, it's natural heartbeat if you will.  Memphis, inspired by the real-life story of Memphis disk jockey Dewey Phillips, takes audiences to "the underground nightclubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, where the soul of a new era is dawning as the first incredible sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, blues and gospel are emerging into the mainstream" (Memphis the Musical official website).

And London has saved only the best for Memphis.  "Queen of British soul" Beverley Knight is headlining as Felicia - let's just say that Beverley is to England as Whitney was to the U.S.  In fact, she played Whitney's role in the musical version of The BodyguardKillian Donnelly plays opposite as Huey (Dewey's fictional counterpart).  He's no stranger to the stage either, having played in The Phantom of the Opera, Billy Elliot, Les Mis and more.

Most Memphians know that Memphis The Musical is near and dear to the Orpheum Theatre.  The Memphis Development Foundation, which operates the Orpheum, was among the musical's earliest investors, the Orpheum served as the launch site for the musical's national tour, and the Orpheum even gets a special shout-out in the script.  As you read this blog, Pat Halloran along with the Memphis CVB and other supporters are in London to see the show for its premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

Of course, this musical is much more than "our baby," it's our voice.  Memphis has already reached hundreds of thousands of people in the US - and even from around the world when you consider how many international travelers visit the Great White Way each year.  But sending the show to London is like giving cake to an obsessive sweet-tooth.  According to the Memphis CVB, the UK is Memphis' second largest international travel market; the CVB even has an office in London because we're so popular with the locals.  Memphis gives us the opportunity to satisfy their Mid-South cravings, to tell our story, and to make our city a must-see destination on a global scale.

So, a hearty congratulations and a heartfelt "break a leg" to the cast, creative, and crew for Memphis The Musical.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a special on-the-scene play-by-play as told by Pat Halloran!

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