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Felicia Boswell (Felicia) and the national touring cast of "Memphis."
Felicia Boswell (Felicia) and the national touring cast of "Memphis." (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

Coming soon: "Memphis"

The question of when rock and roll really began has been argued about for decades.

Bill Haley and the Comets get some of the credit, but most music historians believe the music that became rock and roll began on Beale Street in Memphis and spread out to the rest of the world.

The story of Beale Street is coming to Milwaukee with the Jan. 8-13 run of the award-winning "Memphis" at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

The Milwaukee Rep has just finished a very successful run of "Blues in the Night," a searing story of the evolution and meaning of the blues.

"Memphis" carries the theme a bit further.

The story the writers tell is not unique. A white boy in a black club falls for a black singer and their trials, tribulations and triumphs follow, set against a backdrop of soul-stirring music.

The story, though, is not the critical element of "Memphis." It's the music and the dancing that has set feet tapping and hearts thumping since the play opened on Broadway in 2009. The play won the Tony in 2010 for Best Musical, and it's still a tough ticket in New York.

The show features a brand-new Tony-winning score with music by Bon Jovi's founding member and keyboardist David Bryan with lyrics by Bryan and Joe DiPietro ("I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change"), who also wrote the musical's book.

One of the best and most accurate reviews of "Memphis" came from the distinguished Elizabeth Cincentelli in the New York Post.

She wrote: "Memphis is a zippy, exuberant musical – one that relies exclusively on steadfastly 'classic' values: catchy songs, heaping spoonfuls of inspirational moments and tear-jerking schmaltz, and committed performers at the top of their game."

Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Ticket prices start at $30 (subject to change) and can be purchased in person at the box office at 929 N. Water St., by phone at (414) 273-7206 or online.

This limited engagement is presented by the Marcus Center as part of the Broadway at the Marcus Center and Broadway Across America-Milwaukee series.


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