Memphis Monday: All About the Characters

The premiere of Memphis The Musical is fast approaching and to highlight some of the cool aspects of the show, we’ll be doing a short series called “Memphis Monday” every Monday through Sept. 22.

Before fans feast their eyes on the high-energy regional premiere of the show, it’s important to highlight the colorful characters who make up this special story.

Chad Kimball portrayed Huey Calhoun (left), while Montego Glover play Felicia in the original Broadway production of Memphis The Musical.

Chad Kimball portrayed Huey Calhoun (left), while Montego Glover play Felicia in the original Broadway production of Memphis The Musical.

Robert L. Neblett, an expert in American theatre, has prepared an educational study guide to accompany students for special student matinee performances of Memphis The Musical, which includes a rundown of the characters:

  • Huey Calhoun: Main character, a flamboyant white radio DJ who opens up the Memphis airwaves to the “race records” that lay the foundation for 1950s rock-and-roll. Huey is patterned after “Daddy-O” Dewey Phillips (1926-68), a historical rock-and-roll radio programmer in Memphis who rose to prominence between 1959-69 as a figure whose “Red, Hot & Blue” program featured both white and black musicians during a period of deep cultural segregation in the South. Phillips was the first radio personality to reveal Elvis Presley’s race (it was widely believed Presley was African American until Phillips interviewed him).
  • Delray Farrell: Owner of Delray’s, an underground juke joint on Beale Street in Memphis who is very protective of his sister Felicia
  • Felicia Farrell: Delray’s sister, an aspiring singer who falls in love with Huey
  • Vernon, James, Elroy: Musicians from Delray’s club
  • Selma, Laverne, Bessie: Felicia’s backup singers from Delray’s club
  • Mr. Collins: Owner of a department store where Huey works at the beginning of the play.
  • Perry Como: American singer  (1912-2001) whose popularity in the 1940s–1960s focused largely on his appeal to the traditional family values of post-war “middle America.” Como’s singing career was augmented by his persona as the host of many TV programs, including his Christmas specials.
  • Wailin’ Joe: A stand-in for colorful figures in the African-American music scene of the 1950s such as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Little Richard.

    J. Bernard Calloway played Delray, Felicia's older brother a night club owner in the original production of Memphis The Musical on Broadway.

    J. Bernard Calloway played Delray, Felicia’s older brother a night club owner, in the original production of Memphis The Musical on Broadway.

  • Bobby: A frequent club-goer at Delray’s, a janitor for Simmons’ radio station, later becomes a personality on Huey’s television program
  • Gator: A soft-spoken bartender at Delray’s
  • Mr. Simmons: Owner of radio station WHDZ, who later becomes a producer of Huey’s television program
  • Buck Wiley – DJ and former host of “Boppin’ with the Blues” on WHDZ
  • Rev. Calvin Hobson: African-American pastor at the First Baptist Church
  • Gladys Calhoun/Mama: Huey’s mother, a waitress
  • Gordon Grant: Executive from RCA Records in New York
  • Martin Holton: A TV network executive from New York

See who will be portraying these characters on The Rep stage here and don’t miss your chance to see this award-winning musical Sept. 5-28! Get your tickets to show- single tickets are available now!

Purchase online here and get more information about the show–including special events– here.

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