The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Blog

Posts tagged Joe DiPietro

Arvada Center to bring Tony-winning ‘Memphis’ to Arvada

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Felicia Boswell as Felicia and Bryan Fenkart as Huey in the national touring production of “Memphis.” The Arvada Center will stage the first local production of the Tony-winning musical next season. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

By John Moore

The Arvada Center has announced a three-play, three-musical lineup for its 38th season, headlined by the first locally staged production of the Tony Award-winning best musical, Memphis. (Here’s my 2012 review of the national touring production.)

Like the Denver Center, the Arvada Center is reducing its total show output next season, while maintaining its ongoing collaboration with Creede Repertory Theatre.

Rock and Race in Memphis

By Rob Weinert-Kendt

Bryan Fenkart (Huey) and Felicia Boswell (Felicia) in the National Tour of MEMPHIS - photo by Paul KolnikThe conventional wisdom on Broadway today is that you can’t have a hit without a star name or a Tony winner headlining the cast. If it’s a musical, your best bet is a property with some built-in brand recognition, which helps to explain the trend toward jukebox musicals and adaptations of popular films.

Memphis has been a blazing exception to all these rules since its opening in October of 2009. This original musical about the birth of rock’n’roll took the Best Musical Tony the following spring and ran for 1,165 performances; it arguably made stars of its lead actors, Montego Glover and Chad Kimball, each also nominated for Tonys. (Kimball was replaced midway through the run by Adam Pascal, something of a name in musical theatre circles for his originating role in Rent, but hardly box-office gold by himself.) And as it neared the three-year finishing line this past summer, Memphis checked another box in the success column: It recouped its entire $12 million capital investment before closing in August.