“Memphis” comes to North Dakota

“Memphis” cast sings during musical performance. Photo by Nick Nelson/The Dakota Student.

The musical “Memphis” was put on for an eager crowd at the Chester Fritz Auditorium this past Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The production earned four Tony Awards in 2010, one of which being for the illustrious Best Musical.

Prior to this, I didn’t know much about the Tony Award. Particularly that it was awarded to musicals. But with my utter ignorance for what the criteria are to receive a Tony, I can assure you that the musical “Memphis” earned each one of its awards with ease.

From the first song to the last, the musical offered nonstop entertainment, excellent instrumentals and an engaging storyline.

Now is probably the best time to admit that I am the kind of guy that would rather go mudding in a big jacked up truck than attend a musical. For context, I think mudding is one of the lamest things ever. It’s strange for me to say this, but after going to “Memphis” I could actually picture myself seeing a musical without being forced to by an angry editor.

This change was no doubt caused by the musical’s excellent story, one of a budding African American singer and a southern DJ trying to make it big. The two had their highs and lows, eventually drifting apart to go their separate ways. A high energy ran throughout the entirety of the performance, and I constantly found myself wondering what was going to happen next.

The price of tickets ranged anywhere from an arm to a leg, with the cost for adults reaching up to $55 and prices for children capping at $44.

I can only assume parents in the crowd must have had the tough discussion with their children that they could have either a ticket or a college fund, but certainly not both.

Speaking of children, the play was moderately child friendly. While a few curse words were sprinkled around the musical, it was no worse than what they’d hear from five minutes in a middle school locker room. And the musical had at least twice as much culture.

Being raised on Green Day and other rock bands, I was a little troubled when I realized that the musical contained 21 songs that were meant to sound like they were from the 1950s.

However, my ageism bias was quickly thrown out the window after I heard the jazzy and upbeat rhythm from the very first song. The swift and cheery pace kept me captivated throughout the entire musical — something that the man sitting next to me probably would have disagreed with. He dozed off for a brief period during the fourth song, but I won’t hold it against him. He could have been tired out from saving orphans and puppies from a mysterious orphanage fire all day for all we know. Don’t judge.

Besides a momentarily temperamental mic and a pistol blank that refused to fire at the worst time, the entire performance went off flawlessly. The vocals and dance choreography were simply amazing, and the live orchestra was a pleasure to listen to.

Overall, “Memphis” was a phenomenal musical that seamlessly earned 5 out of 5 stars. If the opportunity presents itself, I would strongly recommend attending a performance. Just be prepared to take out a second mortgage on your dorm room to pay for the ticket.

Brendan McCabe is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].