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Memphis star has hope for America
Memphis star has hope for America
by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

Memphis
5th Avenue Theatre
Through February 15


It's been a month since I did the interview with Montego Glover, the female lead from the new 5th Avenue show, Memphis, and at the time, we were chatting about how far this country has come from the '50s scenarios represented in the show. We were both looking forward to the inauguration of our first black president, Barack Obama, and the changes it would undoubtedly bring to this country, but mostly Montego was very much looking forward to bringing some heft and depth to her role in Memphis. She mentioned that this wasn't the first time she'd been in Seattle to do a show.

"I was in Seattle last year for the Village Theatre, for a reading of St. Heaven, at the New Works Festival," she said. She is excited to be at the 5th Avenue, and she told me how she got the role of Felicia in Memphis.

"It's interesting how the role came to me. I was in New York, and my agent called me and said a theater he knew of had a reading, and when I got there, they wanted me to read for this project that turned out to be Memphis," Montego said. "She told me that the role of Felicia is one she really likes, because she gets to bring some grit to it, and create the character of a woman who co-owns a bar with her brother, Del Ray.

"She wants to be a singer, and she meets a DJ who walks into the bar, and he falls in love with her, and she comes to represent the music he works to get on the radio. She's black, he's white and it's the 1950s," said Montego. She said that the role of the DJ is based on a real DJ who was the first one to put 'race music', as it was called, on television.

She also went on to say that she feels Memphis is relevant to the times we live in right now.

"We're talking about the roles of people who have and people who have not, and people who are white and people who happen to be black," she said. She also saw Memphis being about radio being a kind of birth of technology piece, as radio predated television and the internet and how music is now heard in so many mediums around the world by so many people.

"Race relations and problems with race relations are a part of America's history. It's not something we're proud of, but it's part of our history, and blues music is part of all the music in our culture, and both things are something we deal with in Memphis," said Montego. She added that as much as race relations were relevant for a musical treatment, she could see a musical someday about the movement by GLBTQ people fighting for their rights too.

"I see struggle as a human situation - something we all have in common - and art is a way we can bring this to people's attention. Something we all have in common is knowing what it feels like to be left out," said Montego. She enjoys being part of a show that's still in the process of developing into what she hopes will be the perfect show.

"It is a goal & to create the best possible play, the best work of art we can make," said Montego. The show is having its premiere in Seattle before going on to Broadway. For more information go to the 5th Avenue Theatre website.

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