The budding rock ‘n’ roll music of the 1950s has hit Broadway in the form of the new musical “Memphis,” which opened October 19 at the Shubert Theater after a little over three weeks of previews.

Christopher Ashley directs the two-hour and 30-minute production, which includes a 15-minute intermission. The Civil Rights-charged musicial stars Chad Kimball as radio DJ Huey Calhoun along with Montego Glover as nightclub singer and love interest Felicia Farrell. Joe DiPietro (“You’re Perfect, I Love You, Now Change”) wrote the book and co-wrote the lyrics with composer David Bryan, best known as the keyboardist for Bon Jovi.

Booked into an open-ended run at the 1,470-seat theater, “Memphis” entered previews on September 23. Attendance for the week ending October 11 was about 85 percent capacity in the following weeks, and the box office gross was $478,475. Ticket prices for the production range from $41.50 to $126.50.

On opening night, “Memphis” earned fairly solid reviews from critics, with a few pointing out the plot’s predictability and occasional holes. However, the cast has earned high marks across the board for their displayed talent and able interpretation of the less-than-perfect source material.

“Memphis” runs Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. Exceptions to the performance schedule are for 2 p.m. Sunday shows on October 4, October 11, October 25, December 27 and January 3.

The Shubert Theater is located at 225 West 44th Street. More details about “Memphis” are available on the production’s official Web site.

Opening Night: ‘Memphis’

Publication Critic Review
Variety David Rooney “As the dramatic stakes get higher, the book becomes more sketchy and unconvincing. However, the actors frequently lend conviction that’s absent in the writing.”
New York Times Charles Isherwood “This slick but formulaic entertainment…barely generates enough heat to warp a vinyl record, despite the vigorous efforts of a talented, hard-charging cast.”
Newsday Linda Winer “…arguably the best black musical written by white guys since ‘Dreamgirls.'”
USA Today Elysa Gardner “‘Memphis’ veers from cloying earnestness to obvious satire.”
TheaterMania Brian Scott Lipton “…whether one is willing to fully embrace the show or simply give it a little hug will depend on one’s willingness to overlook the project’s tonal inconsistencies and reliance on cliché.”
Reuters Frank Scheck “Although its themes are familiar — “Dreamgirls” and “Hairspray” both come to mind — and it doesn’t fully manage to avoid clichéd aspects, the show could well turn out to be a surprise hit.”

Last Updated on October 20, 2009