I went to Kravis last night to see “Million Dollar Quartet” and forgive me but I can’t resist… Elvis was in the house. So too were Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. These famous singers, some of the most important figures at the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, were played by Cody Ray Slaughter, James Barry, Scott Moreau and John Countryman, starting with Elvis.
If you want to see these guys before they leave, better hurry, the musical opened on April 30 and closes on May 4. Tickets start at $25 and there’s nary a bad seat in the house. Visit www.kravis.org or call 561-832-7469 or 800-572-8471 for tickets.
The musical takes place Dec. 4, 1956 in the one-room recording studio of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Owner Sam Phillips (Vince Nappo), who discovered and cultivated the native talent of these now, historic musicians had gathered them together for a holiday party with the expectation of signing Johnny Cash for another three years with Sun label. I won’t spoil the story with details. Suffice it to say that the audience related to the story as much as to the music.
Written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, the musical was first presented in Florida in 2006, arriving at Broadway four years and several regional stops later where it ran until 2011. The actors have to be musicians, historically accurate vocalist and acrobats. Elvis Presley’s gyrations were matched and trumped by Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano – often physically.
Kudos to Director Eric Schaeffer and musical arrangement and supervisor Chuck Mead for keeping the story and the music in synch with neither one overwhelming the other.
At the end of the show, glittering sports jacket dropped down to the stage and were donned by the principals who proceeded to perform encore songs from Cash, Presley and Perkins and when the audience anticipated the final curtain Jerry Lee Lewis got his finale while glitter and steam cascaded onto the stage.
There are 23 songs in the lineup, all of them recognizable by almost everyone in the audience. I was actually surprised at the number of younger people in the audience. I guess that shows that rock ‘n’ roll lives — even if Elvis doesn’t.