It is better to travel well than to arrive


So, I turned 31 on Monday. Feels weird. I don’t mind being in my early-30’s, but a little part of me misses being just plain old 30. It was fun to say after a decade of being a 20-something. {By the way, I still stand by everything I wrote last year about turning 30.} I’ve only been in it for a year, but it’s been a pretty darn good decade so far. I can’t complain one bit.

Since having a birthday on a Monday is sort of lame, we decided to celebrate over the weekend instead. We don’t do gifts in our family, so there were no presents to open, but we did take a little trip to Memphis! Although I’m certain my mom would have preferred otherwise, I’m talking about the new musical at the Shaftesbury Theater in London, not the city in western Tennessee. I’ve wanted to see this show since I saw the posters start appearing in the underground stations months ago, and how fitting – to see a show based in my town of birth FOR my birthday.

We love going to the theater in London, but the shows we see are few and far between because of the high cost of tickets for three people. The only other show I’ve seen in the West End was Let It Be for my birthday last year – loved that one, by the way – so it seems like we’ve got a little tradition going here! If it happens twice in a row, it counts as a tradition right? Too bad Cory prefers football games to musicals or we could do this for his birthday, too.

Since Memphis doesn’t officially premiere in London until the 23rd of October, I was able to get discounted tickets for us for the matinee performance on Saturday. As usual, our seats were at the back of the stalls, but if you’re unwilling to shell out £80 per ticket, that’s where they put you. And it’s not so bad, especially if you’re short and used to leaning around other people to see anyway. {Note – this is the reason all of the following pictures have heads awkwardly positioned at the bottom of them.}

Memphis is a musical based in 1950’s Memphis, Tennessee that, through music and a good bit of comedy, takes a fairly lighthearted look at what was actually a very serious issue at the time – race relations between whites and blacks. It’s loosely based on the life of Dewey Phillips, the radio DJ in Memphis credited as being the first to put Elvis Presley on the radio, but if you’re hoping for an Elvis sighting, you won’t find it here.

The show follows Beverley Knight as Felicia Farrell, a talented nightclub singer, and Killian Donnelly as Huey Calhoun, a loudmouth DJ looking to bring “black music” {aka the blues and rock & roll} to mainstream radio, who meet when he stumbles into her brother’s underground nightclub one evening. As soon as Huey hears Felicia sing, he works relentlessly to get her on the radio. As expected, a love story begins to unfold between the two as both of their careers take off, but since this is Memphis in the 50’s, their romance is an ill-fated one. Prejudice and discrimination follow them everywhere, even as they try to keep their love hidden.

Between the phenomenal cast, the extraordinary vocals of Beverley Knight, and a truly captivating storyline, Memphis immediately soared to the top of my favorite musicals list. That’s a pretty long list, by the way. While we haven’t seen a lot in London yet, I have seen my fair share at the Orpheum in Memphis, {I’m talking about the town this time…} and this one stands out amid all of those. This is one of those shows that I could see making it onto the big screen as well. {And if it does, I do hope they cast Justin Timberlake as Huey – JT’s a Memphis boy, too!}

While the comedy and music took center stage, there was still a good bit of emotion running through the play, too. My favorite scene, without giving too much away, comes after a particularly scary night for Felicia and Huey when they are attacked in an alley. The song that one of the cast, Gator, sings is so deep and soulful, it made the hairs on my arms stand up. It’s a good mix, Memphis is, of all my favorite things in a show – great music and choreography, witty one-liners, and a story with heart. I have nothing but good things to say about it and I hope it sticks around for a long time! Info for the theater and tickets below…

As for my actual birthday, I would have spent it mostly alone if it weren’t for my thoughtful kinfolk across the pond. While we couldn’t share the same physical space, we did get to see each other for a few hours thanks to three very lengthy FaceTime calls. My first call of the day was from my little sister who surprised me with my very own FaceTime birthday party complete with a birthday banner, flowers, and baked goods I wouldn’t be able to eat, which, let’s face it – at 31 those are the best kind. I’ve got my work cut out for me in February when it’s her turn to be a year old older. Why did the creativity gene have to skip me? Both my mom and dad were out of town, so I chatted with my mom in Texas and my dad in Brussels {so close, yet so far away!} and before I knew it, Lexie was home from school. Lonely Monday birthday crisis averted!

We ended the day with a few of my favorite things. First, Thai take-out for dinner in our pajamas while catching up on some of our favorite TV shows. Really, it’s much better than that? And finally, a little nighttime reading all snuggled up in bed, because I don’t care how old you are – whether you’re 12 or 31 – you’re never too old for a bedtime story. It’s going to be a good year.

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