Memphis Broadway Finale: Tony Award Winning Hit Musical Ends Run After More Than 1,000 Shows

Memphis Broadway Finale: Tony Award Winning Hit Musical Ends Run After More Than 1,000 Shows

The Memphis Broadway finale took place Sunday as the four-time Tony Award-winning musical drew its final curtain.

The music about a soulful white DJ and his love for a black singer at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement had more 1,166 performances at the Schubert Theatre, Playbill reported. Memphis began previews Sept. 23, 2009, with the musical officially opening a few weeks later.

The long run for Memphis was also profitable for producers, Playbill reported. In late July the producers announced that by the Aug. 5 Broadway finale the musical would recoup its $12 million investment.

In 2010 Memphis won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Original Score (David Bryan and Joe DiPietro), Best Book (DiPietro) and Best Orchestrations (Bryan and Daryl Waters). The musical also launched a nationwide tour in its namesake city of Memphis and will begin touring the country through May 2013.

Memphis got further exposure through an HD film taped in front of a live audience at the Schubert Theatre in early 2011, which was screened in cinemas globally and is available on DVD and BluRay.

The musical had its origins at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, where it was in development for four years before heading to Broadway, UT San Diego reported. Though the production at times struggled to connect with the blues that inspired it during this development path, it was able to capture the essence and experience of the era perfectly, reviewer James Hebert of UT San Diego wrote.

Hebert said of the musical:

There remains a little irony in how this story of whites’ plundering of African-American music to spawn rock ‘n’ roll was itself created primarily by white artists — writer-lyricist Joe DiPietro and composer-lyricist David Bryan, keyboardist for the band Bon Jovi.

But when it explores the friction and difficult consequences of this American cultural coming-together, “Memphis” really feels as if it means it (unlike some aspects of the fun but ultimately feel-good musical fairy tale “Hairspray”).

The Memphis Broadway finale doesn’t mean the end of the musical entirely. There is another production planned for London, though dates have not yet been announced.