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Bon Jovi keyboardist finds theater voice in "Memphis"

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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“Memphis” has been on Broaday and will be hitting the road this year. But David Bryan, the Bon Jovi keyboardist who won a Tony Award the musical’s score, is thrilled about its unique upcoming run in movie theaters.

“Some people think that’s a deficit; ‘It’s gonna kill your main product, the main show on Broadway!’ ” notes Bryan (né Rashbaum), 49. “But for us, we have to create a brand. People don’t know what ‘Memphis’ is. So I think it’s a good thing; they filmed it in the theater and captured what’s on stage.

“So now you can see it, and then when you come to New York you can see it on stage or when it’s on tour. It’s like what we do in the band; there’s DVDs of our live concerts, but they’ll never replace the experience of going to see it.”

“Memphis,” which won a total of four Tonys last year, will show in more than 530 theaters around the country — including five in the metro Detroit area — on April 28 and 30 and May 1 and 3. The production is set in the segregated south of the ’50s and deals with Civil Rights issues with Memphis’ burgeoning music scene as a backdrop. It was Bryan’s first theatrical job, and he and “Memphis” writer Joe DiPietro are now working on another collaboration called “Chasing the Song,” which will be set in the Brill Building, New York’s early ’60s songwriting factory.

And Bryan, who hits the road again with Bon Jovi next month, is hoping “Memphis” will become a feature film, too.

“We’ve been in talks for a while with different people,” he says. “We don’t have a deal down, but we have great interest. We’d definitely write a couple new songs for the movie, just for the fun of it — and because a movie is different than a musical, so you need different kinds of transitions from scene to scene. We’ll do whatever we have to do.”

A full list of theaters and showtimes for “Memphis” can be found at www.FathomEvents.com.

Web Site: www.fathomevents.com

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