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  Memphis Reviews

Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center For Arts
Thru - Jun 16, 2018

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Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center For Arts

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...Penned by that savvy populist Joe DiPietro, a man whom Broadway constantly has underestimated, "Memphis " somehow just works every time, in venues big and small. It has to do with its lack of pretension, its determination to be mainstream and a good time for everybody, and its surprisingly infectious brand of hope."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Recommended

"...Directed by Daryl D. Brooks, “Memphis,” now playing at Porchlight Music Theatre and inspired by the life of legendary Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips (no relation to Sam), dives head-first into an exploration of “race music” of the 1950s and how these records by African-American artists sparked the rock and roll revolution."
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Catey Sullivan

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...Daryl D. Brooks's direction has verve but lacks depth, and while the music is rousing, the scenes that bridge the songs often venture into shtick. The central romance is especially flimsy, and the evolution of that relationship over years doesn't show in the performances. This talented ensemble puts on a fun show, but an inspiring message of perseverance and change isn't enough to overcome shallow storytelling."
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Oliver Sava

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...Black Ensemble alumnus Daryl Brooks' direction of a vibrant cast, led by Liam Quealy and Aerie Williams, for this Porchlight production offers audiences another opportunity for gratitude over the company's move to the Ruth Page arts center. The cozy auditorium's close-up actor-to-audience proximity facilitates an empathetic excitement permeating every corner of the room right up to the rousing hand-clapping finale "They Can't Steal Your Rock-and-Roll" ( but look for the Shirelles-styled "Someday" to be the song warbled in the car on the way home )."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Chicago On the Aisle- Highly Recommended

"...By now I have seen the gritty and electrifying musical “Memphis” – about the pre-dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, the modulation of black music into the white mainstream in the early 1950s – in three different stagings: the original Broadway production, the national tour and the current version mounted by Porchlight Music Theatre in its new home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. This one feels, breathes, rips like the “Memphis” I’ve been waiting for."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Highly Recommended

"...We highly recommend that you come out and see this sensational musical "MEMPHIS" about chasing fame and forbidden love, but it also about relationships between a brother/sister a mother/son and a boss/employee. This play will take you back in time with a captivating tale of forbidden love with a remarkable ensemble at Porchlight Theatre."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Porchlight, American Musicals, Chicago Style, continues to amaze its audiences with productions that jump off the stage and make the drive to their new home at The Ruth Page Center For the Arts, a trip to remember! They are ending their 2017/2018 season with a rip-roaring production of the multi-Tony Award winning ” Memphis” with a book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music and lyrics by David Bryan."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...Porchlight's production, directed by Daryl Brooks, is a feast for the eyes and ears. The singing and dancing are fabulous, and the entire ensemble radiates with life. Williams' cool beauty is the perfect antidote to the tussling between the outsized men who surround her-Quealy's rambunctious Huey and Rush's forceful and intimidating Delray. James Earl Jones II is particularly endearing as the janitor Bobby. He and Gilbert Domally, in the role of Gator, show how a voice can open up a better world in parallel to the sad one we have."
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Irene Hsiao

WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...I confess that the national touring version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “Memphis” that arrived in Chicago in 2011 left me underwhelmed. But the new Porchlight Music Theatre production of the show – the work of Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (music and lyrics) – is nothing short of phenomenal and gives it a whole new life. A transformative evening in the theater, it features galvanic direction by Daryl Brooks, volcanic dancing created by choreographer/assistant director Christopher Carter and his assistant Reneisha Jenkins, a powerhouse onstage band driven by music director/pianist Jermaine Hill, and a large, fiercely talented cast that brings an electric energy to the storytelling, which also includes a mixed-race love affair."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...Porchlight Music Theatre has become another “Broadway in Chicago” with their latest production. It features a fluid scenic design by Jacqueline and Richard Penrod and stunning array of period costumes by Bill Morey. Beautifully acted, sung and danced by some of the city’s most skilled talent, directed with spirit by Daryl Brooks, masterfully accompanied by Musical Director Jermaine Hill and creatively choreographed by Christopher Carter—this is one of the finest productions by an excellent theatre company. It’s phenomenally performed, majestically produced and, quite simply: Hock-a-doo not miss this production!"
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Collin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh- Highly Recommended

"...I LOVED my trip to MEMPHIS! This musical is a powerful tribute to race relations within our rock and roll roots. The story is based on a concept by George W. George and the real life of DJ Dewey Phillips. The creative team of Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (music and lyrics) imagine a rogue DJ breaking the color barrier by playing ‘race music’ on an all white listener radio station. The DJ, Huey Calhoun (played by Liam Quealy), refuses to conform to segregation laws and white Christian bullying. The kooky and cocky Quealy aggressively promotes r&b and pursues Felicia Farrell (played by Aeriel Williams). His zealous quest clashes worlds, changes lives and makes us dance."
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Katy Walsh

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...Powerhouse musical productions come through Chicago on the regular, what with Hamilton still selling out and the Lyric staging an entire series of Broadway classics. With yet another hit on their hands (see: Merrily We Roll Along), it's worth expanding your musical theater mainstays to include Porchlight. See Memphis before it's gone, and check out their entire 2018/2019 season while you're at it."
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Lisa Trifone

Chicago Theater and Arts- Highly Recommended

"...With fine direction by Daryl Brooks, musical direction by Jermaine Hill and choreography by Christopher Carter, 'Memphis' is filled with laughter, soaring emotion and a musical score that has audiences tapping their feet. There are also several songs that bring tears to our eyes."
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Jodie Jacobs

PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

"...The bittersweet love story inevitably leads to rejection and reprisals. Felicia's brother, nightclub owner Delray Jones (Lorenzo Rush, Jr.) sees only trouble and Huey's mom, Gladys (Nancy Wagner) experiences hate firsthand. Through it all, Huey single-mindedly pursues what is right until his own musical revolution - and rebellious nature - wear him out. Rush makes the role of Delray all his own and in Bobby, the triple-threat talents of James Earl Jones II are on full and glorious display. Gator finds his voice in fine form from Gilbert Domally."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...It doesn’t just start. Rather, MEMPHIS explodes onto the Ruth Page Theater stage with rock your soul music propelling its charisma-charged ensemble’s high energy dance. At rapid pace, they flash moves melding The Jerk, The Chicken, The Grind, Lindy and more. It’s an encyclopedia of rock dance moves show biz style (Choreographer/Assistant Direction: Christopher Carter; Assistant Choreography: Reneisha Jenkins) that shouts “GET READY FOR FUN!”"
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Amy Munice