I’m always leery of award-winning shows. I know, for a perky gal like myself it’s an awfully cynical position to take, but in a way I think maybe it’s me just trying to keep my expectations in check. Memphis is a highly acclaimed, Tony award-winning show, and so I was indeed skeptical that it could really be all that and a bag of hockadoo. I would like to publicly apologize to Broadway San Jose, for ever doubting that Memphis would deliver. And, sweet Jesus, did it ever.
Let’s start with the amazing cast, not a single weak link amongst them I tell you. Genuine, solid gold, triple-threats, every damn one of them. They delivered the soul, the songs, the humor (of which there was an extraordinary amount), they all had the moves, the dished out the drama, they told the stories and they told them well. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a cast so well put together, so committed, so balanced and honestly so all around talented. There is a new bar that has been set to be sure.
Massive shout out to “mama,” who sang more notes than I think actually exist at volumes that wowed and with control that can only be described as DAMN or RIDICULOUS. Bobby too gets a thumbs up for his infectious smile, brilliant comic delivery, killer moves and voice with an attitude. You can pick me up for lunch any day this week Bobby, you’re the man. High five also to Gator who got at least one woman in the PACKED and AMPED audience to gasp at the end of the 1st act and more than a few of us to well up. And, to the dancers, who I’m officially not speaking to, y’alls moves were so tight you may well have just put Spanx out of business.
The music is for the most part fantastic. I lost 5 pounds from tapping my foot and bobbing my head during the 2 ½ hour show. If you don’t want to move during this show, you’re probably dead, and you should really get that checked out. There were a couple of songs that I understood NEEDED to be there for character arcs and to move the story along, but they just weren’t as polished lyrically or musically as some of the others and for me they interrupted the momentum. They felt like ill-placed monologues to me almost. The actors totally sold them the best they possibly could, but with so much hotness on stage, even luke warm is going to stick out a bit. The ending was a bit of a challenge for me too. Again, flawlessly performed technically, it just felt like the tiniest bit of a sellout. The show screamed original and never had that sensation of being a “musical” until the final all too convenient last number.
Audience members might have heard an explosion during the show, it’s true, I was unable to silence the sound of my mind being blown by the fierce technical surprises this show had in store and succeeded in pulling off flawlessly. Creative overall design, live feeds, inventive and effective projections, intricate moving pieces, all transitioning us quickly from location to location seamlessly and 100% believablely, without a single snafu. The sound was balanced, the band exceptional and even the costumes have some tricks up their sleeves.
At the end, I did stand, and I did so not only to show my support for a phenomenal hardworking cast, but for the entire creative team behind crafting these characters and the soul, sound and look of this show. The crew, the masterminds behind the staging, directors, the writers and the producers, they all have my respect and then some.
A tremendous 4 ½ jewels out of 5 in the review tiara for a funny, high-energy story told passionately by its consummate cast. This is well crafted entertainment people and if Memphis is any indication of the rest of the Broadway San Jose season yet to come, dude, you’re going to have to budget in throat lozenges and lotion because you’re likely to be “wooping” at the top of your lungs and clapping so hard your hands will chaff. That’s right, I said it, it’s throat destroying, hand-chaffing live theater ladies and gentlemen. You can quote me on that. Now, listen to your Princess and go get your tickets. Memphis plays through Sunday October 28th, only at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.