Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Memphis STILL Lives in Me - Part 1

I'm totally beat so this is going to end up being in two parts ... sorry

Greetings fellow Jovifans. Hope this finds you well. We are experiencing some INCREDIBLE weather here in NYC ... hope that Spring has sprung where you are too. :-)

Its been a great couple of days celebrating the release of the cast recording of "Memphis". Y'all know how much I love this show ... I have not been shy (umm..am I ever?) regarding my feelings about it. If you never read my original review, you can do so here.

The first event I attended was a live webcast last night. The format was a question and answer with Montego Glover, Chad Kimball and Joe DiPietro. Though I didn't care much for the moderator (she seemed to be basically focused on one subject), I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and the opportunity to meet and hear these fabulous artists up close.

You may not realize how long this show has been in development (about 6 years!) ... or the fact that Chad and Montego (as well as many other members of the cast) have been there since the beginning. As a result, they both completely embody their roles - having nurtured and grown with them over the course of time. Furthermore, it is abundantly obvious how much they care for each other as people, which comes thru both onstage and off.

There were so many great moments during the hour-long conversation. Here are a few:

I loved hearing about the trip they all took down to Memphis ... Chad describing the feeling of singing about the corner of Beale and Main while ACTUALLY singing at the corner of Beale and Main. (and how cool is it that the touring production is going to OPEN in Memphis?!)

And Joe describing how he and David Bryan first "met" on the phone and they talked about the score to the show. David expressed an interest in them working together so Joe suggested he write one song and they'd take it from there. Joe hung up the phone thinking he'd probably get something in a couple of weeks -- so he was floored when he received a cd by FedEx the NEXT morning (it contained the incredible song "Music of My Soul.") And thus a great collaboration was born.

And hearing Montego talk about being given the gift of creating Felicia Farrell (though I think WE are the ones who have been given a gift by her performance of it.) Its very hard for any of us who have seen the show to imagine anyone other than her and Chad in their roles.

They talked briefly about the First Lady attending a performance a few weeks back, the physical demands of doing a show 8 times per week ... and about the changes the show has been thru during its development.

As I mentioned to Joe after the session, its been such a treat to watch this musical's rise to stardom ... I remember when they opened in Boston (well, a bit outside of Boston - I think it was the North Shore Music Theatre) all those years ago. So, its not just the cast and the creators who feel a sense of pride and ownership, its also the fans who feel so connected to this show.

When asked what one thing they would like audience members to get from seeing the show, Joe said he simply wants them to be "blown away." Well Joe, we are ... by the music, the story, the acting, the energy, the emotion, the history, the entertainment, the pure enjoyment. Thank you!

I know a couple of people who watched the webcast ... I'm hoping WNYC will archive it somewhere. I'll be sure to post a link if they do.

*Picture by Raellen Foreman (thanks for letting me use it, R! See you soon.)

P.S. Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on the FANTASTICAL record signing event at Barnes & Noble. :-)