Memphis The Musical is the third of five productions Stageart have planned for 2017. Unlike your typical middle child, Memphis is not invisible or resentful – instead, it’s another magnificent show from this brilliant team.
One of their signatures is the high quality of their casting and here it’s no exception. They’ve brought together an extraordinary group of performers – starting with leads James Elmer and Elandrah Eramiha-Feo. James imbues Huey with a compelling mix of idealism, pride, and a dark streak of selfishness. Elandrah has an incredible voice and even more moxie on stage as Felicia. Like the show as a whole, both James’ and Elandrah’s performances were an entertaining mix of spectacle and heart.
Isaac Lindley had a wonderful turn as Gator. There’s a moment with Gator you know is coming from the moment he’s introduced, but that knowledge does nothing to diminish it. Along with a terrific voice, Isaac did great work with the subtle changes to his physicality as Gator’s confidence and status grew.
Nik Murillo and Iopu Auva’a gave splendid, respective performances as Huey’s friend, Bobby and Felicia’s brother, Delray. Greg Pascoe played contrasting roles well as two of Huey’s employers (including the unenviable job of delivering the show’s only use of the n-word).
Mandi Lodge was tremendous in the role of Huey’s mother, Gladys, particularly during her two musical numbers. She had excellent presence on stage, whether brutal in the beginning or amiable later.
Considering the size of the cast, with an ensemble of nine other superb performers, one of the admirable features of the show is it never feeling cramped. Director, Dean Drieberg, has designed a minimal set, plastered with posters of real artists that were playing in the 50s.
Every scene ticked along at a nice pace, never rushing or overstaying their welcome. The cast of Memphis tell a really good story here and it’s one you shouldn’t miss!
Memphis The Musical
Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Wednesday 11 October 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 28 October 2017
For more information, visit: www.stageart.com.au for details.
Image: StageArt’s production of Memphis The Musical – photo by Jayde Justin
Review: David Collins