Brittany: Hi Melinda, thank you so much for giving me your time! Can you tell our readers about yourself and your background in theatre?
Melinda: Sure! I’m a Nashville transplant by way of Maryland. I’m actually currently halfway through medical school (taking a year or two off to do research), but I couldn’t let go of my love of theater – so here I am! My elementary school’s productions were where it all started for me – I have distinct memories of playing a fox and a jester (Tony Award-worthy roles, of course) – and I dabbled in a few shows in middle school and high school. It wasn’t until college that I really sunk my teeth into theater, though – I majored in Theater Studies at Yale University, and got to act, direct, play and create with some truly humbling artists. I took some time off after college to work in DC and become a firefighter (crazy, I know), and then came to Nashville three years ago to start medical school. This is my third show in the Nashville area since being here, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this community.
Brittany: Tell us about your role as Felicia Farrell in Memphis.
Melinda: In short, Felicia Farrell is a black soul singer who gets noticed by a white DJ, Huey Calhoun, when he ventures underground into her brother’s Beale Street juke joint. They share a mutual love for the music that is as forbidden in the mainstream as is their growing love for one another, and the show follows their desires – both individually, and together – to be heard in a culturally and musically white-washed world. Felicia’s voice speaks for so many, both from the 1950s and now, and I feel so honored to get to tell her story.
Brittany: For people who don’t know the story of Memphis, what can you tell them?
Melinda: The story is in the music, really. In a time of tremendous segregation, Memphis speaks of those who tried to bridge social divides with a language that transcends color, culture and creed. Of course, there’s love and drama and choreographed dances involved – but at the heart of the show is a glimpse into the reality of a world that insists on coloring inside the lines, so to speak, and the hope we have in our ability to move beyond that kind of constrictive mentality.
Brittany: What is your favorite moment or song in the show? No spoilers please!
Melinda: I’m a sucker for jazz and big band music, so the brassy dance breaks may be my favorites…is that lame? Of course, I’m also partial to some of the more heart-tugging musical moments, but you said no spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. This show is packed with fantastic music though – I’d come for the band alone!
Brittany: What has been the best part of working on this production?
Melinda: The people. Cliché, but true. Darryl, Robert, Regina, Susan, Tabby, Scarlett, the incredible Michael Adcock and the amazing cast and crew and musicians I get to have fun with every day (I feel like I’m giving an acceptance speech…) – they’ve honestly made this entire thing a joy.
Brittany: What would you tell people who have not purchased their tickets yet?
Melinda: Click here! Do it now.
Brittany: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Melinda:Art is such an amazingly powerful vehicle for storytelling and change – so thank you, for supporting live theater and for listening to our story!
Brittany: Thank you so much, Melinda! And to our readers, for a 60 second preview of Melinda, Michael, and the rest of the cast members performing songs from the show, watch the promotional video!
Memphis runs March 11-26 at the Arts Center of Cannon County. The show is rated PG for some adult language and content.