Upper Darby Summer Stage proudly presents Memphis as the Mainstage production of its 48th season. A Broadway hit filled with laughs, thrills, and rock & roll music penned by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan, Memphis is the winner of Broadway’s “triple crown” for Best Book, Best Original Score, and Best Musical. Bursting with high-energy dances, unforgettable songs, and a captivating story, Memphis is a musical that will speak to the soul of all who see it.
The Mainstage performance of Memphis will be approximately 2.5 hours long with a 15-minute intermission. Performances will take place on July 28, 29, and August 4, 5 at 7:30pm and July 29 at 1:30pm. Tickets range from $15 to $22, and may be purchased online any time at www.udsummerstage.org or by calling the box office at 610.814.7270 during office hours on Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Show content is advised for ages 13 and up (May be inappropriate for children 12 and under. Strong language, violence, and depictions of racial tensions). Performances will take place at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center located at 601 N. Lansdowne Avenue in Drexel Hill, just minutes from the Main Line and Center City. Parking is free.
Inspired by the legendary DJ Dewey Phillips and real life events in 1950’s Tennessee, Memphis transports audiences to the underground clubs where rock & roll was born. When Huey Calhoun (Evan Sleppy of Levittown), a white disc jockey, discovers Felicia Farrell (Sierra Wilson of Upper Darby), a black club singer, ready to make her break, he pursues putting her on the radio against all odds. Going against the wishes of Felicia’s brother Delray (Nigel Grant, Jr. of Upper Darby) and the prejudices of Huey’s mother Gladys (Maura Taylor of West Chester), the two begin a secret relationship that is quickly tested by the tumultuous world. In a journey filled with turbulence, laughs, and love, Huey manages to remind Felicia and the world that music transcends all. Whether Memphis is ready for the music of its soul or not, everything is about to change forever.
Director and Choreographer Devon Sinclair says, “Memphis is important to bring to Summer Stage because our communities often can get so bogged down in our own plights and issues. The show reminds us that there are other elements at play for other communities and we need to become more aware of them. I think this show in general is a great reminder of that, to be more aware – especially for the younger generation of Summer Stage – to open themselves and see these things, things that might seem obvious, while reminding them of our history, and how history can repeat itself in a really disguised way.”
Cast member Nigel Grant, Jr. says, “In my opinion, I feel as though Memphis is one of those shows that’s kind of like a jack-of-all-trades. It has drama points, it has comedy, it has dancing and singing, it has love, it has everything you look for in a show and it does it well. But on top of that, it has a really strong progressive message. I feel like sometimes when it comes to comedies and dramas the message kind of gets lost, but this show has the clear message of ‘be one, be a community, be connected to the people around you.’ And the message is told through the music, which is so powerful.” The power of music is amplified by a live orchestra comprised of professional musicians, bringing the show to another level.
Upper Darby Summer Stage is grateful to partner with PECO and Carolyn Felker, the sponsors of Memphis. Summer Stage would also like to thank its education sponsors Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for their support. Summer Stage 2023 is also supported through sponsor and host, Upper Darby School District, as well as founding sponsor, Upper Darby Township. Upper Darby Summer Stage is now officially a program of the not-for-profit Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation.