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Winner of four Tony Awards in 2010, including Best Musical, Memphis is set in the places where rock and roll was born in the 1950s: the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of Memphis, TN. With an original score, it tells the fictional story of DJ Huey Calhoun, a good ole’ local boy with a passion for R&B music and Felicia Farrell, an up-and-coming black singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street.
From the first notes of its electrifying opening number, right up to a rousing finale, Memphis delivers one energetic song after another leaving you feeling exhilarated by its explosive blend of electrifying music, soaring emotion and roof-raising energy.
Writer Joe DiPietro will be joining the cast on stage for talk back after the performance on opening night, Friday August 7th followed by a reception with the cast and crew. Limited tickets are still available for this performance.
Generously sponsored by:
Beau Allen* (Mr. Simmons) is a veteran of three Broadway shows: Jesus Christ Superstar, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Most recently Beau appeared at The Arts Center of the Carolinas in Hilton Head as Tinsworthy in the musical 9 to 5 and at the Majestic Theater in Springfield, Ma. In Blood Brothers as the Narrator. Favorite roles include Fred Graham/Petuchio in Kiss Me Kate, Daddy Warbucks in Annie, and King Arthur in Camelot. You Tube The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to see Beau as Shredder in the Coming Out of Their Shells tour or as Steven Seagal in Comedy Flo Entertainment’s web series My New Roommate.
Erik Bloomquist (Ensemble) thanks the Playhouse for a terrific summer. Ivoryton: Calendar Girls, The Bully, La Cage Aux Folles. Regional: Hamlet, Ether Dome, A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas (Hartford Stage); A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Blind Date, The Actor, The Solid Gold Cadillac; Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Speckled Band; The North Pole Express; Tonight, Tonight: A Shakespeare Cabaret, and more. Television: The Mystery of Matter, Secrets of the Arsenal. Directing: Top 200 Director on HBO’s Project Greenlight. Writer/director of The Cobblestone Corridor (currently available on VOD) and upcoming feature film Founders Day. Stage directing/choreography includes Carrie, Rent, Into the Woods and Zanna, Don’t. Education: Trinity College and London Dramatic Academy. More at: www.ErikBloomquist.com.
Teren Carter* (Delray) is a Baltimore native who began his acting career in the German production of Miss Saigon. Later, he played the role of Simon in the national tour of Jesus Christ, Superstar, with originals Ted Neely and Carl Anderson. He has also appeared as Adrian in Bethesda Theater’s production of Smokey Joe’s Café, directed and choreographed by the Tony Award winning Chet Walker. Additional credits include the role of Black, in Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, Nomax, in the Arizona Rep Theater’s production of Five Guys Named Moe. He also appeared with Las Vegas entertainer, Clint Holmes in Sophisticated Rhythms, a rhythm and blues musical revue at the Sands Hotel in Atlantic City (voted Best Show on the Boardwalk in the Summer of 1996).
Tiffani Davis (Ensemble) is ecstatic to make her Ivoryton Playhouse Debut! She has recently graduated from The Hartt School’s BFA Musical theatre program. She attended both the Alonzo King Lines and Orlando Ballet summer intensives. Additionally, she has been accepted to the Alvin Ailey, Kirov Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Saratoga Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet summer intensives. Credits: Festival of New Musicals: For Tonight, A New Musical (Ensemble), Goodspeed Musicals, Holiday Inn (Promotional Tap Dancer) Goodspeed Musicals. Other roles include Ragtime (Sarah’s Friend), Rent (Mrs. Jefferson), Working (Rajika), and Book of Days (LouAnn). Much love to my family, Hartt faculty, and Ivoryton Playhouse for the opportunity! tiffanicvdavis.com
Taavon Gamble* (Ensemble/Dance Captain) is thrilled to be making his Ivoryton Playhouse debut this summer with Memphis! Tour: Seussical. Regional: A Chorus Line (Richie), Candide (Maxmilian), Joseph (Naphtali), The Full Monty (Keno), Swing!, My Fair Lady, Dreamgirls, The Producers, 42nd Street (Andy Lee), Cats, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and West Side Story. Point Park grad! Many thanks to the Ivoryton Playhouse team and ATB Talent! www.taavongamble.com
Matthew Gregory (Ensemble) is very excited to be returning to the Ivoryton Playhouse for South Pacific and Memphis! Matthew is a CT native and a recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has performed at Radio City, Joe’s Pub, and, most recently, at Barrington Stage Company, where he was in Kiss Me, Kate and a workshop of William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s updated Romance in Hard Times. Matthew is also a teaching artist for TADA! Youth Theater in NYC and a composer. His musicals include Pajama Sam, an adaptation of a 90’s point-and-click computer game, Where the Sidewalk Ends, a song cycle based on the poems of Shel Silverstein, and a yet-to-be-titled original show in development for this fall. www.matthewgregorymusic.com
Conor M Hamill (Ensemble) Regional:La Cage Aux Folles (Francis), Ivoryton Playhouse, Cabaret (Ernst Ludwig), Playhouse on Park. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Demetrius) Artfarm. Hamlet (Fortinbras, Francisco, Voltimand), A Christmas Carol (Mr Toby, Future, U/S Mr Marvel), Hartford Stage. Film: The Cobblestone Corridor (Newspaper Hawker, Extra), Removed (Victim), The Undercast (Extra). Education: Conor is a recent graduate of The Hartt School’s BFA Actor Training program.
Carson Higgins* (Huey) Ivoryton Playhouse debut! Born and raised in Southern California and graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Last seen in the international tour of Green Day’s American Idiot as St. Jimmy. Other credits include Out of the Basement, The Bad Years, The Columbine Project and was featured on American Idol (season 10). Other film and TV: Without Ward, Raising Hope. Thanks to mom and dad for being awesome! @carsonshiggins
Renée Jackson* (Felicia Farrell) is extremely grateful and elated to be making her Ivoryton Playhouse debut in Memphis. She is a sunny Tampa, Florida native and proud alumna of Ball State’s Musical Theatre program. Notable credits: Paradice, Brooklyn, Sarah, Ragtime, Dorothy Brock, 42nd St, Deena Jones u/s Dreamgirls, Mrs. Muller Doubt, Trix the Aviatrix Drowsy, and Hippolyta A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mazeppa Gypsy, Woman #2 I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and Featured Ensemble Wizard of Oz. She would like to extend an enormous thank you to Todd and Beverley for providing her with such an amazing opportunity as well as her cast and crew for their diligence. Renée would also like to send a special thank you to Mom, PJ, and Kyle for their undeniable love and support. “Next up… the Big Apple!” Psalm 90:17
Amanda Leigh Lupacchino (Ensemble) is thrilled to return for her third summer at The Ivoryton Playhouse in South Pacific and Memhis. She likes long hugs and her favorite color is sparkle. A few of her favorite theater credits include All Shook Up (Ivoryton), Angelina Ballerina the Very Merry Holiday Musical (NYC & tour), Annie (national tour) and Hairspray (Ivoryton). Huge thank you to all of my family, friends and everyone at The Ivoryton Playhouse for their continued support! www.amandaleighlupacchino.com
Melissa McLean is overjoyed to return to Ivoryton, having previously appeared in All Shook Up (Mayor Matilda), Footloose (Lulu), Hairspray (Prudy Pingleton/Matron/Gym teacher, Joseph…., Forum (Gymnasia), Lettuce and Lovage (Miss Framer), Lost in Yonkers (Aunt Gert), The Robber Bridegroom. Chester’s Meeting House Players: Crimes of the Heart, Earth and Sky, The Glass Menagerie, Picnic, A…My Name is Alice. Hartford’s Producing Guild: Heartbeats, Shmulnik’s Waltz, Bermuda Avenue Triangle, Other People’s Money, Jerry’s Girls. Melissa holds a BFA from UConn. As always, love to Jeff, and to her adorable sons, Ian and Caleb.
Kevin Moeti (Ensemble) is beyond thrilled to be making his Ivoryton Playhouse debut and in one of his favorite shows! Off-Broadway: Generations (Soho Rep). Regional: Legally Blonde (Emmett), Carrie (Billy). Other favorites include Once Upon A Mattress (Minstrel). Thanks to the worlds best parents. Live Out Loud. @kevinmoeti
Jenna Rapisarda (Female Ensemble) is so thankful to be returning to the Ivoryton Playhouse this summer performing in South Pacific and Memphis! She is a rising senior at The Hartt School, studying Musical Theatre. She would like to thank all the wonderful human beings involved in this production for their hard work, as well as her family near and far who have shown constant, unconditional love and support. A special shout out to her classmates and teachers at Hartt! Enjoy the show!
David Robbins* (Bobby Dupree) is very excited to be reprising his role as Bobby Dupree in his debut at Ivoryton Playhouse. Regional Credits: Rent (Tom Collins), Avenue Q (Gary Coleman), Memphis (Bobby Dupree), Once on this Island (Agwe). Thank you to Ivoryton Playhouse for the opportunity, Mom, Fine Aunt Phyllis, Uncle Ty’, and my entire family for their continued support! HOCKADOO!
Mya Rose (Ensemble) is a native of Charleston, SC. She is a graduate of The Ailey School and was featured as a guest artist with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at New York City Center. Her favorite credits include Guys and Dolls (National Tour), Vegas Nocturne (Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas) and Dreamgirls (Ivoryton Playhouse). Proverbs 16:9
Tim Russell (Ensemble) is elated to be making his Ivoryton Playhouse debut in Memphis! He most recently completed a production of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra at the Riverside Center Theater in VA. Prior to that, he was seen in a new developmental workshop of Peter Pan in NYC. Favorite regional credits: The Producers (Leo), South Pacific (Lt. Carmichael), Forever Plaid (Jinx), Sweet Smell of Success (Dallas), Hair (Steve/Tribe), Anything Goes (Oakleigh). Tim also spent several months touring aboard Disney Cruise Line as a mainstage performer. He is also a voice teacher at Wickham Vocal Studios in NYC. MM, New York University. BS, UConn. Special thanks to Jacqui and Todd for the chance to do his dream show. Visit: www.TJRussell.org
Michael Sullivan (Ensemble) is ecstatic to be joining the Ivoryton Playhouse company! He is a rising senior senior as a musical theatre major at Ithaca College. Previous roles include Sun in The Good Person of Setzuan and male cover for Into The Woods.
Jamal Shuriah* (Gator) is a member of Actors Equity and graduated from the Hartt School with a BFA in Musical Theatre. His most recent accomplishments have been with Labyrinth Dance Theatre with a performance at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre as one of their lead dancers. Swing, at Mill Mountain Theatre, White Christmas, at Northern Stage, as well as the Int’l tour of Green Day’s American Idiot, as part of the ensemble and understudy for, Favorite Son. He’s played roles such as Simba in Golden Mickeys, and Jaq in Twice Charmed, on Disney Cruise Lines. He is very excited to be a part of this amazing production and thanks his family and friends for their love and support! Follow him on twitter ~ JFreshManX5
Garrett Turner (Ensemble) is delighted to be a part of this production of Memphis! He recently made his New York debut in Acappella the Musical as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. A proud native of Florence, Alabama, Garrett received his Bachelors in Music and Creative Writing from Emory University in Atlanta. He then moved to the UK where he got his Masters in Music Theatre in London at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on a Marshall Scholarship. Garrett is a spoken word poet, basketballer, and scrabble enthusiast. And he’d like to thank his family and friends for their unceasing love and support! More at garrett-turner.com.
Chawnta’ Marie Van (Ensemble) graduate of Long Island University with a Bachelor of Science in dance. She began her training at BrenCar Dancers under the direction of Brenda Jordan, Ronda Jordan and Ranita Jordan. Trained in summer intensives of Earl Mosely Institute of the Art, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Nathan Trice/RITUALS and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. Professionally Ms.Van has been a member of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater second Company and apprentice of the first company. Ms Van has been a principal dancer in the Opera musical Show Boat performing at the Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera.
Melodie Wolford* (Gladys) is incredibly excited to play such an amazing role in Memphis. She most recently played Meg in Damn Yankees at Forestburg Playhouse and has toured the country with 42nd Street and La Cage Aux Folles. Melodie has been seen Off-Broadway as Mrs. Winemiller in Summer And Smoke and in Menopause The Musical. Favorite roles include M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias, Paulette in Legally Blonde and Ms. Hannigan in Annie. Melodie dedicates this performance to her son, Alexander.
Director and Choreographer: Todd Underwood
Musical Director: Michael Morris
Stage Manager: Phill Madore*
Assistant Stage Manager: Michelle Lauren Tuite*
Set Designer: Martin Scott Marchitto
Lighting Designer: Doug Harry
Sound Designer: Tate Burmeister
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Cipollina
This article is reprinted from The Dallas Morning News
By Lawson Taitte, Theater Critic
In a time when even the most honored American playwrights often have to churn out movie scripts that may never get filmed, or write for series television, Joe DiPietro makes a living actually writing for the stage.
Of course, that’s largely because of the almost freakish success of the perennial small-theater hit I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, for which he wrote the book and lyrics.
“It has probably had 3,000 to 4,000 productions at this point,” DiPietro says. “It didn’t let me buy a yacht, but I tell people I wish every young writer had an I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change to fall back on.”
Lately, though, the New Jersey native has also been having major successes on a larger scale. Memphis won the 2010 Tony Award for best Broadway musical and won DiPietro his own Tony for best book.
When I spoke with DiPietro in New York by telephone, he was putting the final touches on his new Broadway show, Nice Work If You Can Get It. On this one he shares credits with none other than George Gershwin, for whose songs DiPietro created an original libretto.
Memphis definitely raised the playwright’s profile, and it wasn’t even his idea.
“Someone approached me about writing a show about a disc jockey who was the first to introduce black music to a white radio audience back in the 1950s. Especially in the South, it was segregated at that time,” DiPietro says. “I’m always open to a good idea, but you have to be passionate about it to make it work.”
DiPietro says his book is to a certain extent based on the life of Dewey Phillips, the first DJ to play Elvis Presley on the radio. But he wanted to fictionalize the story to give it more interest. One of the most striking things about Memphis, for instance, is its treatment of interracial romance at a time when that was illegal and dangerous in the South. DiPietro’s fictional DJ, Huey Calhoun, falls in love with a black singer, Felicia, and helps make her a star.
DiPietro joined forces with Bon Jovi keyboard player David Bryan to write the songs for Memphis. Bryan, too, picked up a 2010 Tony for the show. The two wrote the musical fairly quickly, but it took eight years for it to finally reach Broadway.
“There were rights issues. There was an old producer, and then a new producer,” DiPietro says. “Patience and persistence are vital. You can’t get frustrated. It’s not like back in the 1920s when Gershwin was writing the songs that are now in Nice Work If You Can Get It. Things were quicker back then.”
Bryan and DiPietro are working together on a couple of other shows, including one about American songwriters in the 1960s, “right before the Beatles came along and changed everything.”
DiPietro also has a continuing career as a writer of plays without music. “I like working on two or three things at the same time,” the playwright says. “You can work on one, put it down, and pick up another one from the pile. You really can’t predict when something will actually get to the stage.”
Writer Joe DiPietro will be joining the cast on stage for talk back after the performance on opening night, Friday August 7th followed by a reception with the cast and crew.
Writer Joe DiPietro will be joining the cast on stage for talk back after the performance on opening night, Friday August 7th followed by a reception with the cast and crew. Join us for an opening night reception with the cast of Memphis after the 8:00pm performance on Friday, August 7th.
Check back here for video clips, press releases and images from rehearsals – opening night!
Summer just got even hotter!
At the Ivoryton Playhouse
Ivoryton – The Ivoryton Playhouse leaves the sunny tropical shores of the South Pacific in August and travels to the sizzling backstreets of ‘50s MEMPHIS.
MEMPHIS is set in the places where rock and roll was born – the seedy, underground dance clubs, radio stations and recording studios in 1950s Memphis, Tennessee. Inspired by true events, this high energy musical tells the story of DJ Huey Calhoun who falls in love with a beautiful singer and battles cultural divides as he tries to bring her voice to the airwaves of America. As their careers rise, a revolution erupts when his vision meets her voice and the music changed forever. With an original score, this musical is filled with heart, soul and energy to burn! Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards, MEMPHIS was written by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, All Shook Up) with electrifying blues, rock, ballads and gospel music created by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan.
Writer Joe DiPietro will be joining the cast on stage for talk back after the performance on opening night, Friday August 7th followed by a reception with the cast and crew. Limited tickets are still available for this performance
The Playhouse production of MEMPHIS is directed and choreographed by Todd Underwood, whose last work was seen at the Ivoryton Playhouse as choreographer for La Cage aux Folles and Dreamgirls. The show features Carson Higgins* as Huey, Rénee Jackson* as Felicia Farrell, Teren Carter* as Delray, Jamal Shuriah* as Gator.
Musical directed by Michael Morris, the set is designed by Martin Scott Marchitto, lighting by Doug Harry and costumes by Elizabeth Cipollina.
MEMPHIS opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on August 5th and runs through August 30th, 2015. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. There will be two additional Saturday matinees on August 22nd and 29th at 2pm.
Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.
*denotes member of Actors Equity
Members of the press are welcome at any performance. Please call ahead for tickets.
Generously sponsored by: Pasta Vita, First Niagara, Sennheiser and Saybrook Country Barn.
Looking for something to do? Ivoryton Playhouse was voted Best Place to See Live Theatre by the readers of the Shoreline Times! Come and visit Essex and see a show at this Connecticut historic treasure!