Red Mountain Theatre Company proudly presents Memphis at the RMT Cabaret Theatre, February 1-17. RMT welcomes back New York-based actor Jim Newman, a Center Point native, as he undertakes the character of Huey Calhoun (based on Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips). He is returning to the RMT stage having last been seen in 2011’s Bubba’s Revenge. This Broadway performer’s (Tommy, Sunset Boulevard) connection with the organization goes back to his time at Birmingham Southern College. “I was on a joint scholarship from conductor Tom Gibbs and director James Hatcher, so I worked for Town and Gown/Summerfest Theatre (later to be named Red Mountain Theatre Company),” detailed Newman.
When it comes to Memphis, Newman believes that the music elevates the show beyond its contemporaries. Newman explains, “Being able to write songs that land on your ear with such likable immediacy is such a gift. Most shows have one or even two songs that you will hum. Almost every song in this show is hummable.” More importantly, the subject matter of Memphis easily relates to today’s struggles in society. “Our political/social climate is such that everyone who is different from us seems to be a threat. Coexisting with social differences, social media has given everyone a platform to express hatred. As a society, we seem to be going backwards instead of forwards. It’s disheartening and discouraging. The production and its story hold the mirror of our painful past to our faces as a cautionary tale.”
His character of Huey Calhoun goes through his own struggles and triumphs. In the end, it is exciting for Newman to play a character who does the right thing even in the face of adversity. “I love playing Huey because his social filter seems to be blocked by hope and faith. He tries to make the right choices even if it costs him everything. He has no clue how to be political or play the system. He only knows to follow his instincts. Everyone writes him off as stupid, out-of-touch, or crazy, but in reality, he is just an honest man born too soon,” notes Newman. Newman promises a great night of laughter, great music, and dancing, but most of all he invites people to engage in good positive messages and vibes.
RMT Cabaret Theatre
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