Providence Performing Arts Center
January 15, 2013
It’s December 4, 1956. For the first and only time, four future legends congregate at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, TN for a spur-of-the-moment, unrehearsed jam session under the guidance of Sun Records owner, Sam Phillips, who discovered each member of this “million dollar quartet”- Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. Million Dollar Quartet is the musical reenactment of this special night in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Comments: Million Dollar Quartet is like time-traveling backwards to a 1950’s rock concert. A real audience-pleaser, many of the singers’ most well-known songs are showcased such as “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “That’s All Right”, “I Walk the Line”, “Hound Dog”, and “Great Balls of Fire”. I particularly liked the gospel tunes, “Down By the Riverside” and “Peace in the Valley”, which were sung in perfect harmony.
Elvis Presley was played by Billy Woodward, and his performance was inspired by a young Elvis early in his career that went beyond doing a mere “Elvis impression”. David Elkins captured the vocal quality and speech inflection of Mr. Johnny Cash very well, and his singing was probably the closest to the “real thing”. Lesser known is Carl Perkins, played by James Barry, who I felt had the most depth of all the singers. Finally, show stealer Benjamin Goddard killed it as the crazy, piano-thumping Jerry Lee Lewis. Bravo.
Vince Nappo portrayed Sam Phillips and although he didn’t do much singing, he was very effective as the tie that brought the million dollar quartet together. The addition of a female character named Dyanne (Elvis’ girlfriend), played by Kelly Lamont, balanced the show musically.
This musical is not solely a “concert”; several minor story-lines are incorporated into the performance that explain each singer’s career struggles/triumphs at that time.
Million Dollar Quartet is appealing to all generations and reminiscent of a great period in music history. If you want an enjoyable night at the theatre, check out the national tour here.