I was lucky enough to see Memphis for the 2nd time on Thursday 9th July. I don’t propose to go over the story or my thoughts on the show overall but feel free to check it out here!
There was a couple of new faces to me in some of the main roles. First time round I saw Jon Robyns in the role of Huey. As my original review indicates I thought he was brilliant and rightly deserves his nomination for West End Wilma’s understudy of the year. On Monday Matt Cardle of XFactor ‘fame’ took over this role. I am not normally a big advocate of ‘celebrities’ in roles so I went not expecting much from Matt however I was pleasantly surprised! He had a solid voice which easily kept up with the cast around him. I took me a while to warm to him and on occasion he did have the tendency to gabble but by act 2 I was thoroughly won over and by the penultimate number ‘Memphis Lives In Me,’ he had me captivated.
In the role of Felicia I saw Rachel John, yet another cast member nominated as understudy of the year. Beverly Knight had blown me away in this role but Rachel John showed that she more than stands her own ground in this role. Her voice is outstanding and at points sends shivers down the spine. Rachel and Matt have great chemistry together although overall Beverly Knight does just pip Rachel to it – a certain star quality that she has and brings a bit more sex appeal to the role.
Simon Ray-Harvey was also on for Bobby. Simon brought a great soul sound to Bobby’s voice however I preferred Jason Pennycooke in the role who stood out to me initially. Part of this is was that I simply preferred an older person in the role but also Jason’s dancing and cheeky smile is hard to match.
The ensemble in Memphis work their socks off. Each of them were a joy to watch and played the numerous roles as if their life depended on it. Their dancing is spot on and their vocals shine – this stage is busting to the brim with triple threats. This has to be one of the strongest ensembles I have seen in the West End.
I enjoyed the show even more the second time around and I found myself more willing to see past some of the stilted lyrics and whilst it didn’t move me to tears (heart of ice I know) I got more emotionally involved. The audience ended the night on their feet and for good reason – this cast deserved all of the applause it got. This is a brilliant night out and recommend that you get yourself down to the Shaftesbury before the show closes at the end of October.