‘Memphis’ visits UW-Whitewater

By Lea Staedtler

 

Whitewater students and community members get a chance to see award-winning Broadway production “Memphis” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Young Auditorium.

Tickets for the show are $14.75, $19.75, or $49.50 for students and $29.50, $39.50, or $49.50 for the general public. Ticket prices are determined by seating choice.

David Bryan, keyboard player of Bon Jovi, wrote the music for “Memphis” and the show won several Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2010.

Set in Memphis, Tenn., in the 1950’s the musical covers themes of segregation, racism, and forbidden love.

When Huey Calhoun, a white DJ, steps into an underground African-American nightclub, he instantly falls in love with rock ‘n’ roll, which is considered “black music” at the time. He decides to integrate rock ‘n’ roll into mainstream and to help Felicia Farrell, a black singer he falls in love with, to fame.

As their relationship grows Calhoun and Farrell face increasing hostility from coworkers and their own families. In the end they have to make a tough decision that changes their lives.

Freshman Jacob Jones said he is excited for a big name musical to come to Whitewater.

“It’s awesome that a Broadway show is coming here,” Jones said. “It’s a great way to open up theater music to the general public.”

As a music education major he said he also likes the opportunity too see something different.

“The musical is a very different style from the mostly classical pieces we have to sing in class,” Jones said. “It will be great to experience that.”

Leslie LaMuro, marketing director of the Young Auditorium, said the musical addresses issues such as tensions of mixed-race relationships that are still prevalent today. It relates to students because “it’s all about fighting for what’s right and making dreams come true,” she said.

Avionce Hoyles plays Gator, a bartender at the nightclub. He said the love story and the music are most appealing to the audience.

“It’s the energy of the story we tell, it’s so uplifting and inspiring,” he said.

Hoyles said his favorite part about acting is to step in someone’s shoes from around the world and experience the character’s emotions. He described “Memphis” as an exhilarating experience for him.

“Memphis” is not the first Broadway musical to come to UW-Whitewater. Because Whitewater is located between Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison the Young Auditorium is able to book one to two shows of that caliber each year, LaMuro said.

The ticket prices for students are more expensive than usual because it is the national show and not a scaled-back version.

“Memphis” is currently on its second national tour but it is the first time the production makes stops at college campuses away from the big cities.

“We wanted to take the show into smaller towns where people normally wouldn’t get a chance to see it,” Hoyles said.

He said he believes “Memphis” is a must-see for anyone who can attend.

“The music is so great, you will sing the songs for weeks after,” Hoyles said.

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