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Getting into the swing of ‘Memphis’

December 13, 2012

Published in Metro

Derek St. Pierre knows how to multitask. On any given night, he may play characters ranging in age from 15 to 50.

“It ranges from teenagers listening to the radio, to TV studio executives, to a typical Memphian store owner,” says the performer.

In theater productions, an ensemble member darts on and off the stage, playing multiple background characters during a show. As a “swing,” St. Pierre understudies for five of those ensemble members.
That’s a lot of dancing, speaking lines and stage direction to master.

“Your brain has to compartmentalize all the different tracks that you’re doing so you can think about one person at a time,” St. Pierre explains. “When you wrap your head around it, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.”

“Memphis” is about a white radio DJ who falls in love with a black singer during the racially contentious 1950s. Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan wrote the music.

“It’s contemporary pop rock, with the flavors of the blues and R&B of the time,” says St. Pierre.

This isn’t the performer’s first go at a rock ‘ n’ roll musical. Before this, he had a role in “Rock of Ages” on Broadway.

“I love this music, but I never thought that this would be a trend for my career. It was not my strength in school at all,” he says. “Now I’m singing David Bryan’s music every night.”

Success story? Luck story!

Performing in Boston is especially exciting for St. Pierre: He graduated from the Boston Conservatory in 2010. He actually landed his first Broadway role before graduation, but doesn’t consider himself one of the school’s success stories … yet.

“I would say I’m a luck story,” he says with a laugh. “I guess we’ll see if I’m a success story after the next 10 years.”

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