Introduction by Mike Halterman
In all the musicals I’ve seen in my life, Memphis is one of my favorites. I saw the original national tour when they stopped in Arkansas, where I used to live, in February 2013 (Memphis would make stops in Florida just months later). This musical is powerful in that you are sucked in by the songs and the dancing — and while you are shaking off all the cares you have in the world, the theme of the musical also makes you think. That theme is unity: that no matter what race we are or what music we listen to, we are all the same people who want happiness and the absolute best for their lives. When we love, it is blind. That was definitely the case for the protagonists, Huey and Felicia. Their love story, pitting them against all odds in the racist society of 1950s Tennessee, proves that while eyes may see color, open hearts and open minds do not.
I am excited that Memphis is returning to Florida, and I hope you get a chance to see this musical and enjoy it as much as I do. The next stop on the Memphis national tour is West Palm Beach, where the musical will be presented in Dreyfoos Hall at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. The opening night performance is Tuesday, April 7 at 8 p.m., and the final performance is Sunday, April 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased in person at the Kravis Center box office, by calling (561) 832-7469, or by visiting kravis.org.
Turn up that dial! From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes a hot new Broadway musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis is about a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break. Come along on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves — filled with laughter, soaring emotion and roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll. Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Memphis played pre-Broadway at the La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, and features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and a Tony-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi’s founding member David Bryan. Get ready to experience Broadway’s most exciting new destination – what AP calls “The very essence of what a Broadway musical should be.”
Jamari Williams, at age 21, is living his dream. Originally from Vero Beach, he got his start in singing and acting at Saint Edward’s School. When he was 18, he packed up everything he had and left Indian River County for New York City. Now he is in his first national touring production, singing in the Be Black Trio with their showstopping number “Everybody Wants to Be Black on Saturday Night.” It was an honor to speak with him for this exclusive Hotspots interview.
Out of all the venues you’ve performed in, which is your favorite and why?
I know that the Kravis Center is definitely one of my favorites. I’m not sure if I can name any extra venues, but I know that the state of California received us very well and I really enjoyed performing there. We stopped in San Luis Obispo and in Riverside. It was a wonderful experience.
What do you like the most about being a part of Memphis: The Musical?
I think that working with an ensemble cast, and performing for all of these different, welcoming crowds, have both been huge blessings. Getting to pursue my dream, to live my life, dance around onstage and sing, all of those opportunities have been great. I also love giving our positive energy to the audience and hopefully they receive that feeling and understand a little more deeply what the message of the show is.
How long did it take to get ready before the company took the musical out on the road?
It took a while, because we trained to learn our parts first and then we had to hit all of our marks with lighting and sound and the rest of the crew. I easily put in ten to twelve hour days most every day of the week for two months before we were ready to go on the road.
What’s your favorite song in the production and why?
I would say the song that resonates with me most is “Love Will Stand.” The message of the song is that love will stand no matter what’s going on, no matter how far apart the two of you may be. At the end of the day, love will win. Love will always win.
Pretty topical considering Florida just legalized marriage equality in January.