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Turn up that dial! It's Time for the Tony Award-Winning Musical MEMPHIS! NOW - July 12

April 9, 2015

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre concludes its landmark 206th season with Broadway’s rockin’ Tony Award-winning Best Musical, MEMPHIS. Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, this exhilarating musical begins previews on May 12th, opens on May 20th and runs through July 12th on the WST Mainstage.

From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes a hot new 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. The show features an original score by Bon Jovi's David Bryan that evokes the powerhouse funk of James Brown, the hot guitar riffs of Chuck Berry, the smooth harmonies of the Temptations and the silken, bouncy pop of the great girl groups of the period. It's time for the roof-raising rock 'n' roll musical, MEMPHIS!

Disc Jockey Dewey Phillips was one of the first white DJs to play black music in Memphis during the 1950s. His story inspired David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe DiPietro (book, music and lyrics) to write the sensational musical MEMPHIS. Bryan is a founding member and keyboardist of the legendary band Bon Jovi. Among DiPietro’s credits is Living on Love, currently running on Broadway starring Renée Flemming, All Shook Up and Off-Broadway’s longest running production I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (book and lyrics). The pair first teamed up for The Toxic Avenger which opened Off-Broadway in April, 2009. Their latest project, Chasing the Song, had its world premiere last year at La Jolla Playhouse.

MEMPHIS opened on Broadway in October, 2009 to critical acclaim and ran through August 2012. The show won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score Written for the Theatre and Best Orchestrations. Additionally, MEMPHIS won four Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical, and four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Outstanding New Broadway Musical. The first National US Tour opened in 2011 and London’s West End production opened in 2014. The first international production was staged in Japan this year. The Walnut’s production of MEMPHIS is produced in association with Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida.

Richard Stafford returns to the Walnut as director and choreographer. His previous Walnut credits include direction and choreography for Curtains, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Beauty and the Beast and Cats, as well as choreography for The Goodbye Girl, La Vie En Bleu and Evita. On Broadway, Stafford was choreographer for In My Life, associate choreographer for Aspects of Love and dance supervisor for Cats. His work has been seen on the National Tours of Cats (director/choreographer), My Fair Lady (choreographer) and Joseph…Dreamcoat (choreographer), as well as numerous regional and international stages. Joining Stafford is Music and Vocal Director Douglass G. Lutz, whose many Walnut credits include Mary Poppins, 9 to 5 the Musical and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Scenic Designer Peter Barbieri will lead the design team in transporting the audience back to the 50s with underground nightclubs filled with passion and celebration and a DJ booth ready to rock the nation. Barbieri is making his Walnut debut, along with Lighting Designer Jack Mehler, Costume Designer Gail Baldoni and Sound Designer David Temby.

Christopher Sutton returns to the Walnut as Huey Calhoun. Audiences will remember Sutton from his performances on the Walnut’s mainstage as Buddy the Elf in the wildly popular show Elf and as Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story. Most recently, Sutton was seen in the Independence Studio on 3 in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which he also directed. Kimber Sprawl makes her Walnut debut in her dream role, Felicia Farrell. Sprawl’s credits include Velma Kelly in Chicago at The Carnegie, Pilar in Legally Blonde at Music Theatre Wichita and The Addams Family at The Muny.

Philip Michael Baskerville returns to the Walnut as Delray Farrell after his unforgettable performance as John in Miss Saigon. Mary Martello, recently seen at the Walnut in Mary Poppins, returns as Huey’s Mama, Gladys Calhoun. Nichalas Parker, a former Walnut Acting Apprentice, makes his mainstage debut as Bobby. Ron Wisniski and Travis Keith Battle make their Walnut debuts as Mr. Simmons and Gator, respectively. The ensemble includes Christopher DeAngelis (Evita), Drew Franklin (How to Succeed…), Billy D. Hart (9 to 5 the Musical), Kristyn Pope (Finnians Rainbow), Fran Prisco (9 to 5 the Musical) and Kerri Rose (Mary Poppins). Ensemble members Sarah Buscaino, Jovan Dansberry, Holly Googe, April Holloway, Jesse Jones, Gregory Omar Osborne and Edward C. Smith will make their Walnut debuts in this production.

MEMPHIS runs at the Walnut May 12 through July 12. This production is sponsored by Progressive Business Publications. PNC Arts Alive is the Walnut’s Community Partner for MEMPHIS. Media Sponsor is NBC 10. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.