Memphis in the West End

Wednesday 15th October

A good musical is one to enjoy, to maybe make you smile or even cry a little.  

A remarkable musical takes a story that’s been waiting - imploring - to be told. That story jumps right from the stage and makes it into your heart and your head; that’s Memphis, and precisely why I love it. This show has soul. It makes you think, feel, laugh and cry - and proves that musicals can provide the very best vessel for storytelling. 

I am pleased that Memphis, still in previews, has sailed across the Atlantic from Broadway to the Shaftesbury Theatre and I feel confident it’ll find a lusty audience in London. The Tony award winner packs a powerful punch, placing music into American civil rights history. The show’s original songs come from Bon Jovi co-founder David Bryan, and the story inspired from real events by writer Joe DiPietro. With a stella cast and creative team in place, Memphis is nothing short of electric.  

The original Broadway cast of Memphis

Beverley Knight grabs hold of the lead role and pours her soul and sensational voice into every pore. Her likeable counterpart, Killian Donnelly, captures something special in Huey Calhoun, aspiring radio DJ and music pioneer. Donnelly transfixes - his vocals soar through the show and he brings boundless charisma to what could otherwise be an awkward role. Plucky and intrepid, these two are a force to be reckoned with. 

The energy generated is a company effort, and the ensemble deliver something dazzling in the process. Director Christopher Ashley has developed something coherent, slick and textured. Sharp narrative choreography is crafted by Sergio Trujillo who brought us Jersey Boys, set in the decades to follow. The cast live every step, and the vocals don’t miss a beat.

Memphis during its Broadway run

Tim Sutton’s musical direction is a dream, and catching glimpses of the band throughout the show (particularly in the second half) added to the thrill. DiPietro’s gutsy book is witty and agile, delivering light relief and powerful punches of reality in the same breath. I walked out of the Shaftesbury and into the pouring rain having been totally absorbed for two hours, inspired, grateful, galvanised, energised, moved. A quick browse on Twitter shows I’m not alone in thinking this production deserves an audience. Get tickets at


Thank you @theatreofficial for the tickets.