EDITING : 2024.3.5 화 15:38
The Gachon Herald
Memphis,’ a Musical That Changes Discrimination and Conflict Into Music.A well-made musical that contains the struggles of 1950’s.
Seo jun yeong  |  sjy5878@gachon.ac.kr
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Updated : 2023.12.28  16:15:39
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 The musical ‘Memphis’ is the story of the king of American rock and roll, Elvis Presley. 'Memphis,' filled with soulful music and lively dances, portrays a blossoming love in spite of the racial discrimination in the 1950’s through music. This article introduces 'Memphis,' a musical acknowledged domestically for its robust vocals and acting, and the beginning of Elvis Presley in the world by musicals and music.

 The plot of 'Memphis' unfolds as follows: in the racially divided city of Memphis, Tennessee in the southern United States in the 1950’s, Huey, a young white man deeply engrossed in ‘rock’n’roll, known as 'Black music,' visits an underground club in the Black neighborhood of Beale Street. There, upon hearing Felicia, the sister of the club owner Delray, sing, he resolves to widely publicize her music, which is deemed black music, rock’n’roll.
 However, the process is not easy. Without a stable job, Huey barges into a local radio broadcasting station with the single-minded goal of promoting the music. Moreover, he enters the studio of a white-only channel run by a DJ who plays only white people’s songs.

 Huey unceremoniously drives out the channel's DJ and becomes the DJ himself! Both the white DJ and the station manager tried to stop Huey's intrusion. However, Huey's song selection gets unexpectedly positive responses. The station personnel, who believed it impossible for white radio to play Black music, starts to trust Huey's eloquence and song selection skills despite his constant use of 'Hockadoo' (a slang used by Black people at that time). Eventually, as Black music starts playing on a white people's radio channel, people begin to be captivated by the soul of Black music.

 Huey becomes the most successful DJ in Memphis and using his fame to broadcast Felicia's music. When her voice flows through the airwaves, propelling the local radio to the number one spot, Felicia gets encouragement to pursue her long-time dream of becoming a 'singer.' Huey and Felicia work diligently with their crew to become giants in the local broadcast and progress into lovers. They present various genres of new music from rock’n’roll to Blues, building careers and gaining fame.
 Huey, content with his current success, finds immense happiness in working with his crew. Conversely, feeling overshadowed by Huey's spotlight, Felicia begins to desire singing on a bigger stage. Coincidentally, a nationwide New York broadcasting station wants to debut Huey and Felicia. However, the station officials plan to take only two people—Huey and Felicia—to New York. Even though Huey's claim that they have grown together with their crew and it's an impossible decision, Felicia believes that as a Black person, this is the only way for her to succeed and leaves for New York alone.
 Several years later, Felicia becomes a beloved singer in the entire United States, while Huey becomes a forgotten DJ even in Memphis. Perhaps due to memories, Felicia seeks out Huey and requests him to appear as a guest on her national tour in Memphis.
 The most memorable scene from watching the musical was the moment Huey and Felicia each yearned for different types of success. Huey, a young man who didn’t even have a stable job, considers living happily with his family and crew in Memphis as his success. On the other hand, Felicia, who wanted to become a singer but had been confined to singing only in nightclubs due to her ethnicity, saw fame and restoring honor for herself and her family as her definition of success. The conflict they create while vying for each other's success without a resolution was the most emotionally charged scene in the musical 'Memphis.' Nobody could determine who was right between the two.
Let's hear the reviewer's comment who watched it together.
Ju Min Jeong (Department of East Asian 1)
 It was my first experience watching a musical. I initially thought that musicals would generally have a serious atmosphere and sing grandiose songs, but through 'Memphis', I realized that a musical could be enjoyed with flashy dances and bright songs.
 Moreover, 'Memphis' deals with social issues of that time, such as racial discrimination, contrasting the melancholic situation faced by discriminated black individuals with the lively and vibrant nature of Black music. Through this musical experience, I felt that observing social issues held significance. Hockadoo!
 The characters of 'Memphis' instills thoughts about whether to settle for the present or strive for something more. I feel that the dream of venturing into a bigger world is a concern shared by numerous individuals in their twenties, including myself. Although the play itself doesn’t have a typical 'happy ending,' thanks to the lively music and vibrant characters, the 160 minutes didn't feel long. At the same time, the musical unfolds themes of the future, something young people like me contemplate, making it more relatable than other musicals.
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