If rock and roll or forbidden love entice you, you’ll want to experience “Memphis” at Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. A high-energy musical loosely based on a real interracial relationship in the 1950s, “Memphis” portrays timeless emotion and powerful history though balanced, honest means. It focuses on a white DJ Huey Calhoun (Eddie Egan) who was the first to play Black music on the radio in Memphis and singer Felicia Farrell’s (Gabrielle Graham’s) meeting of romance and rock. The Current spoke with Egan to get a little inside knowledge:
“It’s probably one of the biggest-scale musicals you can put up on the stage. The story’s massive. The music ranges across a bunch of different styles from rhythm and blues to rock and roll to gospel. It’s got some really high-energy, high-octane dancing to match the exciting new sounds through the era. It’s really big in scale in almost every way a musical can be.”
What’s your favorite part of the show to act?
“I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a really fun moment later in the show where my character has almost a protest breakdown on live TV. It’s really fun to live through that intense of a moment. That’s probably my favorite part to do.”
What kind of audience do you think can relate to “Memphis”?
“That’s what is great about this show. I think there’s something in it for everyone. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from coming, but there is some language some parents might not want their younger children to experience. But It’s all very important and crucial to telling the story and setting the time period in a realistic way. It really is the kind of musical that connects to a really wide range of people. That’s why it’s still getting done all around the country today.”
Working with this musical, you’re constantly with your fellow cast members. How is it working with them and spending so much time around them?
“It’s great. I’ve made so many friends in just these few weeks getting the show put up. It really is a joy to go to work everyday. Everybody’s really passionate about he message of the show. It’s created a really fun and exciting work atmosphere. Everyone’s really on the page page in bring their heart to it because it’s a story that relates to a lot of things that are messed up in the world right now that we are all figuring out, so it’s nice to have that release.”
“I think it’s really about following your heart, following your joy, your love — even if outside sources are telling you that you’re wrong for dreaming what your dreaming or you’re wrong for loving who you’re loving. It’s really important to find the joy and not listen to all the naysayers who might be stuck following the status quo more than they should be.”
What would you tell someone who is considering attending Memphis in Ft. Lauderdale?
“I would tell them to get ready for a roller coaster of an evening. They’re going to laugh, they’re going to cry, they’re going to learn something. They’re going to leave wanting to dance out the aisles and humming the tunes on the way out. It’s a really fun show with a lot of heart.”
Be sure to grab your Memphis tickets by calling (305) 444-9293 or at www.actorsplayhouse.org.