BAA Presents ‘Memphis: The Musical’ at the Strand Theatre

Boston Arts Academy (BAA), the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts presented, Memphis: The Musical at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester with Danielle Barnes and Jonah Barricklo, both of Jamaica Plain staring in leading roles.

Based on real life disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white disc jockey’s to play black music in 1950s, Memphis: The Musical is the story of a young optimist who believes that music can transcend race and societal barriers in the midst of segregation in the Deep South. Aspiring singer Felicia Farrell, who is ready for her big break (and love) joins him on his journey to change the world (or at least Memphis, Tennessee) through music. Written by playwright and lyricist Joe DiPietro, this Broadway production is the winner of four Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score.

Actor, author, and musician, Malik Yoba, best known for his roles in the Disney classic Cool Runnings, the hit Fox television series Empire and New York Undercover, recently joined the Boston Arts Academy Foundation (BAAF) board, and was eager to facilitate the talkback session to help unpack the weight and impact of this story. Yoba stated, “I’m always happy to help out BAA students, parents, and faculty. Concerns about the show’s language created a teachable moment via the talkback.”

 Danielle Barnes is a senior vocalist at Boston Arts Academy (BAA). She started singing at the age of 2. When she was 6 years old, she was brought in to sing professionally with her family, known as The Wilson Family Gospel Singers. At 13, Danielle released her first gospel CD (with family). Danielle comes from a family of gospel singers (including: Inez Andrews, Caravans; Clarence Fountain, 5 Blind Boys of Alabama; and Jimmy Carter, 5 Blind Boys of Mississippi), and is well known to all the churches in the Greater Boston Area. Danielle has shared many platforms with other famous singers such as: Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s, Jay Caldwell & the Gospel Ambassadors, The Sons of Trumpet, 5 Blind boys of Alabama, The Gospel Keynotes, and many more.

“This play really excites me because not only do I show off my vocal skills but for the first time I’m allowed to show my acting abilities.”

 Jonah Barricklo is a 17 year old theatre major at Boston Arts Academy (BAA) who recently moved from NYC in the summer of 2017. He is thrilled to be a part of this year’s musical, Memphis! Last year, he was seen in BAA’s Ruined, Dancing in the Streets, and She Kills Monsters. Jonah loves to sing, dance, and act and has been in musicals such as How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Professional Performing Arts School) and Godspell (Wingspan Arts).

“I love that I can do all three things I love at the same time: singing, dancing, and acting! What made me most excited to do this show was that it brings all of the majors together to collaborate as a school, not just by department.” Boston Arts Academy (BAA) is supported by Boston Arts Academy Foundation (BAAF) which is an independent 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, and raises 40% of the school’s budget from private philanthropic sources. BAA is Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. It provides a diverse student body, a majority of whom come from low-income families, access to a college-preparatory arts, and academic education not otherwise available to them. Our mission is to prepare a community of aspiring artist-scholar-citizens to be successful in college or their professional career.

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