‘Memphis” Gets a Tony

One of last night's big Tony winners got its theatrical start here in the Bay Area.

The musical "Memphis" earned four awards, including Best Musical.  It is a 1950s rock musical about an interracial couple trying to make it in Memphis. 

Memphis was developed at Theatre Works in Mountain View.  They workshopped it in 2004.  

Theatre Works Artistic Director Robert Kelley told the Chronicle the win was a triumph.

"We're immensely proud of 'Memphis,' its exceptional creators and its phenomenal stars. And I'm really proud of our adventuresome audience for supporting its development in our Kelley told the paper.   What a thrill to be part of a glorious night of recognition for Bay Area theater,"  Kelley told the paper.

"American Idiot" was also nominated for best musical, but lost to "Memphis."  It debuted in Berkeley and is about the band Green Day, who is from the Bay Area.

Local winners:

  • Best Musical: "Memphis."
  • Best Book of a Musical: "Memphis."
  • Best Original Score Written for the Theater: "Memphis."
  • Best Orchestrations: Daryl Waters and David Bryan, "Memphis."
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Christine Jones, "American Idiot."
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Kevin Adams, "American Idiot.

Memphis' win was also celebrated in San Diego.  The musical first played at the La Jolla Playhouse before moving to New York. As with many award-winning productions at the popular venue, San Diegans saw the musical in its first performances as cast and crew finished fine-tuning Memphis for its Broadway debut.

“It has been an incredible journey to bring Memphis to audiences at La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, and on Broadway,” Ashley said when the list of nominations were released. “We are humbled by the response from Broadway audiences and deeply honored to be recognized with so many Tony Award nominations. It has been a rare privilege to work with this cast and creative team."


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