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Theatre Review: Memphis The Musical @ Shaftesbury Theatre

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★★★★★

On Record Store Day it seemed only right to see a musical orientated around the golden age of music. (Deservedly) award-winning Memphis The Musical has recently hit the limelight after such a decorated win at this year's Olivier Awards, claiming Best Theatre Choreographer (Sergio Trujillo) and Best Sound Design (Gareth Owen).

The story bases itself in 1950s Memphis (obviously), Tennessee, following Huey (Killian Donnelly), a white guy, and Felicia (Beverley Knight), a black woman. When Huey stumbles upon a "black folk"'s bar and hears Felicia song, he falls in love and is determined to make her famous and play her on the radio station he works at. Though a charming "boy meets girl" narrative, the musical highlights racial issues and views on interracial relationships in twentieth century America.

The musical shows how much has changed in 60 years, with the interracial couple two rows in front of me spending the majority of the interval kissing. Though some elements still exist, it's a production oozing in optimism.

Directed by Christopher Ashley, Memphis is a visual, feel good masterpiece, thriving in its triumphant volume and constant sound, colour and movement. No one leaves in a bad mood.

A voice that often makes you mutter "damn" to yourself, Beverley Knight truly is the spectacle you expect her to be. Hearing her sing is alone worth ticket price. The chills experienced within the auditorium were either due to a) Knight's high notes or b) Knight blowing the roof off and the cold weather, thus cooling the room.

Jon Robyn's (Huey understudy) took the role of the principle and took us to church. Adopting Huey's personalities seemed second nature to Robyn having managed to enrapture roars following the end to each number.

If you are to see anything this year, let it be this.




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