Million Dollar Quartet treats an unforgettable night when Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins all got together at Sun Records in Memphis to the (mostly) delight of rock production legend Sam Phillips. Unsurprisingly, the show itself is massively entertaining. Using real musician and onstage accompaniment, the quartet winds their way through hits like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Real Wild Child,” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” and that’s even before Elvis arrives.
Like a lot of contemporary musicals based on real-life music history (Jersey Boys, Rock of Ages), the onstage narrator has to pull double duty as a character. In Quartet Marc D. Donovan doubles as Sam Phillips while he narrates background, but thankfully this isn’t heavy-handed or intrusive as it can sometimes be.
Generally, the cast and crew do a marvelous job of making this fateful night in history come alive without giving the show an impersonating vibe. This includes Felice Garcia’s Dyanne and her sexier (is that possible?) version of “Fever” among other numbers. Benjamin D. Hale must also be praised for hitting those low Cash notes and Tyler Hunter’s Elvis could probably out dance the original.
Apart from the amazing musical and dancing chops of the performers, the snappy dialogue and tension between the hilarious Martin Kaye, who uncannily plays Jerry Lee, and Mikey Hachey’s Perkins, who as the lesser known musician has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, can be electric.
The characters are believable and their youth makes even those of us not alive in the ’50s nostalgic for an earlier time in rock when you had to open a coke with a bottle opener and music sounded a lot grittier.
Bottom line, if you didn’t leave Million Dollar Quartet whistling and grinning you don’t really love rock-n-roll.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.
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