When Felicia Boswell takes the stage each night in the new musical MEMPHIS, coming to the Wharton Center March 27 to April 1, she brings her skills as a singer and dancer but is able to leave a majority of her acting skills behind. Along with sharing a name, she and her MEMPHIS character share so much that Boswell said it’s hard to tell where one ends and one begins. “(There) are so many parallels,” said Boswell from her hotel room in Clearwater, Fla. “I understand her. She truly (is an) extension of Felicia Boswell … She’s very real to me.” MEMPHIS, winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, tells stories from the underground Memphis, Tenn. dance clubs of the 1950s. It focuses on a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer (Felicia) who is ready for her big break. Growing up in Montgomery, Ala. — where the heart of the civil rights movement took place — connected Boswell to the part of history that MEMPHIS revolves around, very early on. Similar to her character Felicia, performing was also a part of Boswell’s life from the start. By the age of five she was singing with her siblings on a weekly gospel radio show. “I don’t know my life without performing,” said Boswell. “I come alive. It’s my heartbeat.” Boswell’s talent has taken her all over the country and in 2007 landed her in New York City where she began performing on Broadway. Although she aspires to be a recording artist (also similar to her MEMPHIS character) Boswell has found success performing on Broadway. MEMPHIS is her third national tour. In fact, she was about to leave on tour with The Lion King when she received the call that she landed the role of Felicia. “This was definitely a better fit for me,” she said. Boswell first heard about the show from a fellow Dream Girls cast mate. “I have been told a lot that the role was a perfect fit for me,” she said. When Boswell saw the show for herself she had to agree. “I fell in love with the character,” she said. Similarly critics and audiences have fallen in love with the show. “People don’t know what to expect, they’re taking a gamble on us,” said Boswell. One that is paying off. “It’s a beautiful love story. There’s history. It’s a necessary story to tell,” said Boswell. “You’re engrossed from the moment you hear the first beat.” And the excitement doesn’t end until the show does. Boswell said at the end of each performance the audience is on its feet. “It’s fulfilling,” she said. “I feel very proud about the product we put on stage.” For tickets or more info click here.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.