Label: Delray Records*
Number: 1 23456 78901 2*
Format: Single CD
Case: Single Jewel Case
Booklet: Full color production photos; Complete lyrics
*Note: This is a "Special Limited Edition" available only at the theatre or at the Memphis online store. The "label" and "number" are in lieu of a distributing record company. There are rumors as to why this is, but they will not be discussed here.
On the Show and Its Stars: In my review, I wrote: "Imagine all of the best parts of Jersey Boys + the serious themes of Hairspray + the soul of Dreamgirls. You'd have Memphis. Is it perfect? No. What is? It is most nice to see Chad Kimball in a role that is worthy of his considerable talents. He BECOMES Huey Calhoun... his voice, his body language, his range, his voice... are just amazing. And the chemistry between him and Montego Glover was palpable and instant. Then, too, are the huge score, the riveting story and fast-paced direction worthy of consideration.
On the Book and the Score: I wrote: "The music, by Broadway newcomer David Bryan, if you like early rock and roll, gospel, blues, R&B and rockabilly, is excellent. The lyrics and book, both by Joe DiPietro, are an interesting blend of stereotypes, but never clichés, and subtle word play of excellent caliber. That is to say, the casual theatergoer who doesn't really pay attention to the art of it will get it and be moved, and there is plenty there for the rest of us to dig into."
On the Recording: Memphis maintains the long string of cast recordings that are superbly produced, with exceptional sound quality and performances that are as fully realized in the studio as they are on stage. The orchestrations by David Bryan and Daryl Waters are fantastic. The horns and percussion are particularly well represented here. And the "bonus track" of David Bryan singing "Memphis Lives in Me" is a terrific addition. Were current musical tastes suited to this, or if Broadway musical songs were once again the rage of the airways, this single would be a number one hit, I am sure. The full color booklet offers a well-written synopsis, a short but poignant essay by Loraine A. Boyle, and the complete lyrics, as well as several production photos.
As this show and The Addams Family may be the only original scores this season, that alone should get musical theatre enthusiasts to buy this CD. But beyond that, I recommend it for catchy hummable tunes, great numbers to learn and belt into your hairbrush, and most of all as a great way to remember a great show full of exuberant performances and a score created by a relative newcomer. Here's hoping that Memphis will not be the last we hear of David Bryan.
Grade: A- Huckadoo!
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