Memphis: Backstage, Costumes, and Some Thoughts

It has been a while since the husband and I have been able to do date night. What with work and travels and seeing friends… And we don’t even have children! I’m not sure how parents cope, but big respect. For our first date in ages, we went to see Memphis The Musical at Shaftsbury Theatre. We were given review tickets to see the show, so it was all terribly exciting. I love rock and roll (lol), and couldn’t really say no to hearing Beverley Knight and Matt Cardle in the flesh. Thankfully even though the tube strike foiled our first attempt at going into town, we were able to catch it a few days later.

Before watching Memphis, I had expected to write a review focused on the set and the costumes. It’s a 1950s drama set in Tennessee – I couldn’t not write about clothes (+this is supposed to be a design blog, right?)! Swingy dresses, little purses and red lips for the girls, jacket+tie and buttoned up collars for the boys… I soon realised, though, that behind the catchy tunes and sparkly dresses were the very pertinent and topical themes of race in society and cultural (mis)appropriation. Now is not the place or time to share my views about those topics, but with the latest Nicki/Taylor re VMA-gate, Sandra Bland, Rachel Dolezal… they are clearly themes that haven’t seen much resolution. It is so sad to see that racism is very much alive today (have we learned anything in the past 100 years??), and I appreciated how Memphis attempted to deal with those divisive themes through the universal languages of dance and music.

Behind the scenes of Memphis the MusicalBehind the scenes of Memphis the MusicalBehind the scenes of Memphis the MusicalBehind the scenes of Memphis the Musical

On top of it all, we got to enjoy roof-raising, power singing by Beverley Knight and hilarious + charming (although sometimes frustrating) scenes by Matt Cardle, as well as steady to flow of catchy songs (a lot of people were bopping along in their seats!). I thought about writing a synopsis, but given that we went into the musical cold and were very positively surprised, I changed my mind! Go watch it and tell us what you think.

Memphis The Musical


Images: Johan Persson (Memphis 2014)

Disclosure: We received review tickets, but all thoughts + opinions are entirely my own. I am always honest and authentic in my commentary – if I wouldn’t say the same in real life, I wouldn’t do so here! (See FAQ/Disclosure for more.)


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