Review - Memphis The Musical (with Matt Cardle)

If you follow me on any form of social media, or you've been reading this blog for a little while, you may have noticed that I am a very big fan of Memphis the Musical. When I first saw it during its preview period last October I fell in love, and subsequently used any excuse I could find to return again, And again. And again. I took my parents to see it, brought along my grandma, my sister and I queued for dayseats on several occasions and my theatre loving friends also embraced the obsession. In fact, I have currently seen the show 8 times and have 2 more visits planned. 

Needless to say I am quite fond of it. 

And so a few months ago when Killian Donnelly (the original West End Huey) announced that he'd be leaving the show early in order to join to cast of Kinky Boots, I was quite surprised. Especially when his replacement was announced to be non other that X Factor winner Matt Cardle. I wasn't an X Factor fan and my only knowledge of Matt Cardle was from a Now CD which he featured on, covering the Biffy Clyro song When We Collide. However, I was lucky enough to attend West End Live this summer and was treated to his rendition of Memphis Lives In Me, which frankly blew me away and exceeded all my expectations. Unsurprisingly, when I finally got round to seeing the show again I was not disappointed.

In case you aren't aware of the story, Memphis the Musical is set in 1950s Tennessee and follows a while DJ named Huey Calhoun who falls in love with a black nightclub singer called Felicia Farrell, and tells the story of the pair as they attempt to find fame and bring rock and roll to the mainstream, despite the racial tensions of the time.  

As Huey, Cardle's voice was staggeringly soulful and incredibly powerful... a perfect match for soul queen Beverley Knight whose spine-tingling vocals have won her much critical acclaim in the role of Felicia Farrell. I was very impressed Cardle's overall performance, and struggled to believe that it was his acting debut, as aside from a few accent slips he more than held his own while sharing the stage with the rest of the cast, and nailed all of the weird quirkiness of his character while remaining endearing and likable.

The show itself is just unmissable. With great choreography, fabulous music, gorgeous costumes and one of the most hardworking, enthusiastic, energetic casts on the West End, it's a crime that Memphis will be closing on the 31st October.

If you've already seen the show, please let me know what you think below, or on twitter, and if you've not yet seen it, or had the pleasure to see the cast led by Matt Cardle, then I implore you, get yourself to the Shaftesbury Theatre now. You'll have an absolutely brilliant time!

Memphis the musical closes on 31st October. Beverley Knight is due to leave the show on 17th October and will be replaced by Rachel John (read my review of Rachel in the show here). Find cast holiday information and ticket information on the show's official website.