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Memphis’ meets Columbus in musical

Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

Bright lights, skilled voices and sharp choreography are all common in successful Broadway shows, but for one hit musical, there is no need to pack up and head to New York City.

Last weekend, a film version of the live performance of “Memphis,” a Tony Award-winning musical, played on 530 screens nationwide.

The musical depicts the blossoming yet forbidden relationship between white DJ Huey Calhoun and black singer Felicia Farrell in Memphis, Tenn., during the 1950s.

The presentation of the show began with a behind-the-scenes look at the production of “Memphis,” and The Lantern was able to interview the crew members.

David Bryan, the musical’s composer and keyboardist for Bon Jovi, said the musical had a message about racism that spoke to him.

“I know one thing: (the show) wasn’t entertainment for entertainment’s sake,” he said.

Joe DiPietro, who wrote the book “Memphis” is based on, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” said he was pleased with the show from the beginning.

“The first performance of ‘Memphis,’ the audience loved it,” DiPietro said. “Eighty percent of the time we made it better from night to night.”

Matt Kaplowitz, the sound producer for the filming of “Memphis,” said they “can take the sound of a Broadway show so close to the real thing that people forget they’re not in a Broadway theater.”

A group of moviegoers went to see the show because of a friend’s recommendation.

“I think that the sound’s better … They did a really good job of mixing it. You don’t feel like you’ve lost anything,” Peter Boyuk  said. “In fact, I feel like we gained something. For example, the sirens coming in from behind you.”

Gus Flichia  said he’s seen many shows on Broadway, but this was his first time seeing one in a movie theater.

“I’m really surprised,” he said. “You get to see the different angle views and everything. Where when you’re in the theater you have to watch and do your own angling.”

Mary Mahaffey said she enjoyed the different camera angles as well.

“I thought it was just going to be a single camera,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the production of it. It’s great.”

Flichia did have one complaint about the production.

“I’ll tell you one thing I didn’t like: all the talking at the beginning. They could have put that at the end if they wanted,” he said. “I was ready to fast forward at that part.”

“Memphis” will tour to more than 30 cities in the U.S. starting in the title city this October. The musical will show in Columbus from May 29 to June 3, 2012, at the Ohio Theatre. Tickets cost $20.

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