Local audiences will connect with musical themes in ‘Memphis’

November 29, 2013 

“Memphis” is a musical tale about breaking down racial divisions through music.

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“Memphis,” a Tony Award winner for Best Musical, makes its Middle Georgia debut in the national touring production coming to the Grand Opera House on Monday and Tuesday. With a long list of awards, including four 2010 Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and four Outer Critic Circle Awards, “Memphis” is making headlines and selling out crowds all around the country.

According to the show’s website, “ ‘Memphis’ takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated ’50s, where a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun fell in love with everything he shouldn’t -- rock ’n’ roll and an electrifying black singer. ‘Memphis’ is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever.”

“This story should resonate for people in Macon,” said Cindy Hill, arts marketing director for the Grand. “The musical is based on the true story of a black singer and white record promoter who teamed up to integrate the airwaves in Memphis back in the ’50s -- exactly like Otis Redding and Phil Walden did here in Macon.”

Hill said she was excited when the opportunity arose to book the show.

“It has never been performed in central Georgia and that is always an absolute thrill to be able to present something new like that, especially when it’s a Tony Award winning musical,” she said. “But this show is particularly relevant to Macon audiences because Macon has always been so deeply affected by music. ‘Memphis’ is definitely about the desegregation of music and the fact that music can help people and communities come together in a way that not much else can. In this case, it’s about the black and white communities finding common ground, and ultimately, equalizing ground.”

Hill said she feels that the audience, especially, will be able to relate to the show.

“Music crosses all sorts of barriers. ‘Memphis’ is a great story in and of itself, but it is really about breaking down attitudes that keep people apart,” she said. “A lot of people will be able to relate to the dream of making it big, but also to the reality of learning how to work with people. It’s the theme of Macon for the past few decades, really -- together, we can do anything.”

It’s also a really fun show.

“It has such great music and it has truly amazing dance numbers. Anyone who is a fan of dancing will really enjoy this,” she said. “There is a lot of swing, Southern rock, R&B -- it is just a very cool musical. We are very lucky to have it here and we really think audiences are going to love it.”

“Memphis”

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2-3

Where: Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St

Cost: $36-$50

Information: 478-301-547, www.thegrandmacon.com

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