Musical shines spotlight on Memphis

Four-time Tony Award-winning play, "Memphis the Musical," is launching its national tour right here in the Bluff City and the production is packing more than entertainment.
Four-time Tony Award-winning play, "Memphis the Musical," is launching its national tour right here in the Bluff City and the production is packing more than entertainment.

(WMC-TV) - Four-time Tony Award-winning play, "Memphis the Musical," is launching its national tour right here in the Bluff City and the production is packing more than entertainment.

Not only has "Memphis the Musical" earned the most coveted awards in theater, the play is promoting the Bluff City to the masses and bringing heavy-hitters to our river city.

"It's an honor for us to be in a position for it to start here," said Pat Halloran, of the Orpheum Theatre.

Halloran has all hands on deck to bring history to the gilded auditorium of Memphis' Orpheum Theatre.

"First time in its 80-year history that we have been able to launch an international tour of a Broadway show," he said.

"Memphis the Musical" launches October 14, but the Orpheum is already abuzz with activity. Halloran gave Action News 5 an exclusive peak at the Herculean pre-production effort.

"It's literally going to take $4 million to put the show together and that's all going to happen here," he said.

It's such a big production; the setup in the Orpheum is like nothing the theater has done before. Work stations have been erected throughout the theater: choreography, lighting, sound, but when the curtains come up, the stations will come out and the theater will be packed.

"Over the next two weeks there will be 100 people working on the show in the theater all at the same time," said Halloran.

The story on the origin of Memphis sounds has captured the hearts of Broadway fans since 2009. Mayor A C Wharton saw the play in New York. He sold the first ticket for the Orpheum opening.

"It is great," Wharton said. "It does a great job of capturing who we really are and it so well done."

Halloran says about 400 investors and producers who are bringing Memphis the Musical to other cities will be here for the opening.

"What does that credit card commercial say? Priceless. It's priceless," said Wharton.

The cast arrives October 3. Opening night is October 14. They'll play 13 shows here.

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