Memphis

By Dalia Wolfson
What if...you weren’t heard?

Do you remember a time when the radio ruled and TV hadn’t taken over? No? Me, neither, but Memphis will take you back through a whirlwind of rock ‘n roll music, when waves of sound were changing the nation. Set in the 1950’s, Memphis tells the story and the song of black music making its way into the mainstream, granting its performers greater acceptance through their melodies.

The musical centers around a flabby-tongued white disc jockey who publicizes and falls in love with a black singer struggling to be heard. Throughout the streets, kitchens and radio stations of Memphis, the two lovers struggle with the identity of their relationship as it pivots between racism, career opportunities and the society at large. 

Memphis proves music to be a unifying, transcendent medium. Black music—blues on fast-forward and gospels on high intensity—is absorbed by  the white population, melting the core of racism as the purity of human sounds is heard on the radio.

Memphis evokes an era not too far away, so we can appreciate its music and reexamine our own prejudices. This musical is especially relevant for teenagers, because the show focuses on young peoples’ ability to bring about a revolution—white teenagers are seen dancing with black teenagers, ignoring their parents’ discriminatory attitudes. Memphis regards youth as a source of dynamic, positive change, and as a teenager I find this outlook inspiring and empowering.

HOW TO SEE THE SHOW: $26.50 student rush • Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St.