Memphis: Nancy Opel to play Mamma

Nancy Opel is to join the cast of the 2010 Tony winning Best Musical Memphis, playing the role of 'Mamma' from 15 Mar 2011. Opel assumes thr role from original cast member Cass Morgan, who plays her final performance on 13 Mar 2011.

Also on 15 Mar 2011, current ensemble member John Jellison will take over the role of 'Mr. Simmons,' assuming the role from original cast member Michael McGrath, who also plays his final performance on 13 Mar 2011.

Nancy Opel's (Mama) was nominated for a Tony for her performance as 'Penelope Pennywise' in 'Urinetown.' Other Broadway credits include: 'Evita,' 'Sunday in the Park with George,' 'Anything Goes,' 'Teddy & Alice,' 'Triumph of Love' and 'Fiddler on the Roof.'

John Jellison's (Mr. Simmons) Broadway credits include: 'All Shook Up,' 'Caroline, or Change,' 'Oklahoma!,' 'Putting It Together,' 'On the Town,' 'The Capeman,' 'Titanic,' 'Crazy For You.'

They join a cast that features Chad Kimball (Huey Calhoun), Montego Glover (Felicia Farrell), Derrick Baskin (Gator), J. Bernard Calloway (Delray Jones) and James Monroe Iglehart (Bobby).

Memphis opened at Broadway's Shubert Theatre on 19 Oct 2009, following previews from 23 Sep 2009, where it is currently booking through to 30 Oct 2011.

The musical opened to mostly excellent reviews: It's entertaining. (NY Daily News); A zippy, exuberant musical (NY Post); Triumphant (Bloomberg); Entertaining but synthetic (variety).

The musical won four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score (David Bryan and Joe DiPietro), Best Book (Joe DiPietro), and Best Orchestrations (David Bryan and Daryl Waters).

Based on a concept by George W. George (producer of the Tony nominated 'Bedroom Farce' & film: 'My Dinner With Andre'), Memphis features a book & lyrics by Joe DiPietro ('I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change'), and music & lyrics by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan, in his Broadway debut. The new musical is directed by Tony nominee Christopher Ashley ('Xanadu') and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo ('Jersey Boys' & 'Guys and Dolls').

Featuring an original score with gospel, rhythm & blues, and early rock 'n' roll fused with Byran’s own contemporary sensibility, Memphis follows the fictionalized life story of young, white radio disc jockey Huey Calhoon growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950’s. An unlikely hero with a great love of the music he hears in the black bars on Beale Street, Huey’s on-air antics and unstoppable enthusiasm for "race records" creates a new white audience for African-American music. His personal life transcends the race line as well, when he falls in love with a beautiful black singer - with dramatic consequences.

Scenic Design for Memphis is by Tony Award winner David Gallo ('The Drowsy Chaperone,' 'reasons to Be pretty'), Costume Design is by Tony nominee Paul Tazewell ('In The Heights'),lighting design is by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley ('Jersey Boys') and sound by Ken Travis (The Threepenny Opera).

Memphis played a limited, sold-out engagement at La Jolla Playhouse from 19 Aug – 28 Sep 2008 and received San Diego’s Craig Noel Awards for Excellence in Theatre for both Outstanding New Musical of 2008 and for its star Chad Kimball, in the role of DJ Huey Calhoun.

The show then went on to another critically acclaimed engagement at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre from 27 Jan - 15 Feb 2009.

Memphis is produced on Broadway by Junkyard Dog Productions, Barbara and Buddy Freitag and Kenny and Marleen Alhadeff with Latitude Link, Demos Bizar Entertainment, Dancap USA Productions, Jim and Susan Blair, Lauren Doll and Tony Ponturo in association with Patty Baker.

Nancy Opel