Before I delve deeper I just want to state after last night’s performance Beverley Knight is not human. Her pipes are made out of steel, brass and some other trace elements.
We are still trying to figure out what they are. Our science departments are running tests as we speak. She trivialises the fact that she is one heck of an actress and gifted singer by making us think, it’s so natural and fun. She is incredibly gifted and phenomenal!
A great gift indeed she has been endowed with. Memphis Musical was explosive from the start. Took a muso friend along, with great taste in music, just to make sure I was not day dreaming.
The story of Memphis has roots central to both black and white cultures. You can sympathise and empathise quicker with different scenes depending on which side of the fence you belong to. A distilled blend of pure magic, splendor, suave moves and an awesome cast led by Beverley Knight and Killian Donelly.
Killian Donnelly is a refined Irish gentleman. He’s unique, off beat, sometimes awkward, but portrays a smart character who through his exemplary performance gives us hope for a Sam Cooke type ‘change gon come’ in a violent, racially charged civil rights movement.
He was full of grace when I met up with him after the show, casually. He’s a real white rebel in character. Smitten, yet, a bit of a clown sometimes, playing a pivotal role alongside Beverley’s character.
Killian’s mesmerising display of musicality on piano, (singing and playing, simultaneously) in a Memphis pirated timeline of coloured music rebellion showed his competence on and off stage as a formidable co-star alongside Beverly Knight.
Beverley is just something else on stage. She dazzles, she thrills, sexy-fies and she emotes with supreme precision. If she were to shoot vocal missiles to disarm Hitler’s troops or break the chains of Amistad, she’d be a true coloured rebel, to do just that in the name of freedom. She has a ‘belt’ for days and the ‘range’ for change.
The character of her brother, played by ‘Rolan Bell’ is very strong also and was portrayed flawlessly, just as much as ‘Claire Machin’, who plays Killian’s mother. Like all coloured brothers and non-coloured mothers defending their pride would.
In pure charisma, she buoyantly floats on stage with the ‘cream of the crop’ – of dancing divas and divos. The male dancers were just too much. They were just ridiculously good. You wouldn’t expect, a thing, less, for someone who played ‘Queen of the Night‘, nightly, in the west end’s adaptation of Bodyguard – the movie, previously, for a long stretch. Must say, found the girls around Beverley, sometimes, drowned out, in the sass dept. Perhaps, that’s the mark of a star.
In a time, where white supremacy ruled, and life was impossibly bearable; how do you justify bigotry, without change? Change takes time. This and more, were the sentiments portrayed, in this forbidden love story. You become weaved, and entangled in this hypnotic web, of plots of reality, and fantasy.
Some insensitive-flat lines, that raised eyebrows with racial tension, got me gasping over some scenes. Despite this fit of a mild irritation, I could see the humor behind them, objectively. Nevertheless, it’s a stiff, bitter-sweet, pill, to swallow sometimes, if you have experienced any form of discrimination – racial, or not. Maybe, love saves the day. Lies have an expiry date, unlike the truth. Truly, once again; as we say at MercyfulGrace HQ :: There is nothing above Love*’. Let’s not spoil the rest
The producers have definitely done a marvellous job at bringing a great team from both sides of the Atlantic into the west end, to make this show explosive, memorable and a breathtaking stunning spectacular. Bold, gutsy writing! Go Memphis! Memphis The Musical, is currently showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre. A must go see! Five Stars, from MercyfulGrace. We-Like !!!
Memphis The Musical, is currently showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, in London. A must go see! We applaud with Five Stars at MercyfulGrace HQ.
by Anthony Everest