“What an amazing show!” “Those boys are so talented!” “That was a hoot!”
These are just a few of the countless words of praise streaming from the audience for the musical-turned-concert Million Dollar Quartet. Bobbing heads and dancing shoulders throughout the Performing Arts Center, the audience definitely enjoys the performance. Exciting, energetic, and authentic beyond belief, Million Dollar Quartet takes us all back in time to relive the days of musical greats…including those of us who weren’t even born yet.
Recreating the magic of a particular recording session at the famous Sun Records, Million Dollar Quartet is the supergroup of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, who performed together for one night only. James Barry (as Carl Perkins), John Countryman (as Jerry Lee Lewis), Tyler Hunter (as Elvis Presley), and Scott Moreau (as Johnny Cash) are all incredibly talented and easy to listen to for hours. They accurately portray each to a T, from their voices to their mannerisms. The attention to detail and obvious dedication to their craft Barry, Countryman, Hunter, and Moreau exhibit, allows the audience to partake in a tribute to musical giants without any cheap imitation.
An already fulfilling musical performance, Million Dollar Quartet evolves into a once-in-a-lifetime concert of these much-loved musicians, complete with dancing in the aisles and Elvis adorning one lucky lady with his scarf.
The most striking moment occurs near the end of the performance. As Elvis, Johnny, Carl, and Jerry Lee gather around the piano, Sam Phillips (played by Vince Nappo) prepares to take a photo of the boys. After the theatre turns to black and camera flashes are the only lights visible, an actual photo of that fateful day appears center-stage, with the boys in the same positions around the piano. The historic recording session tracks can be heard in the background as each audience member remembers their own connection to this time and place and realizes the loss we still feel without these pillars of music around today.
The authentic set (designed by Derek McLane), characteristic costumes (designed by Jane Greenwood), and dramatic lighting (designed by Howell Binkley) all contribute to the overall plot progression and character development without overshadowing the storyline. Effective technical theatre design is a major aspect of any successful production and the creative team of Million Dollar Quartet make this enormous feat look easy.
December 4, 1956 was a monumental night uniting four legends of music and is forever preserved by the Million Dollar Quartet musical. Fittingly, the final words of the performance are the iconic “Elvis has left the building.”
Although I only grew up listening to this music thanks to my parents, it is difficult to fight back tears of joy and sorrow throughout the entire show. Easily, Million Dollar Quartet is the most interactive, emotional, and just plain fun musical I have ever seen!
(Photo Credits: Wikipedia & Million Dollar Quartet)