from Lincolnshire, Illinois
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Best show we’ve ever seen!!! Music, performances, and energy are amazing! Performers go above and beyond. Lighting, sound, and staging were phenomenal. Main cast are exceedingly talented - and the drummer and bass player are rockin!
Yvonne P from Chicago, Illinois
THEE MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
“One man bought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley to play together for the first and only time; his name was Sam Phillips. The place was Sun Records and that night they made rock n roll history. These four men became The Million Dollar Quartet by chance on December 4, 1956, making rock n roll revolutionary”. This was the introduction to a theatrical musical that brought to life an iconic tale of four great musicians renowned to the rock n roll industry.
The quartet sporadically strolls into Sun Records, the studio where all of their music careers started under the eyes of Sam Phillips (Sean Fortunato) who made them all musical legends. This random visit turned into an impromptu jam session that involved Johnny Cash (Tommy Malouf), Jerry Lee Lewis (Michael Kurowski), Carl Perkins (Zachary Stevenson) and Elvis Presley (Zach Sorrow). Who would have ever imagined that a jam session would make them historical millionaires?
The Million Dollar Quartet is centered around Sam Phillips, who is narrating the story from his perspective, and the debuts of the quartet. According to Sam Phillips, Carl Perkins put Sun Records on the map with his hit single, Blue Suede Shoes. Carl Perkins knew his position to the company and felt arrogant, but he was the star looking for a new hit single while seeking a new contract with another record label. Jerry Lee Lewis, new to the company, tries to become a star with his pianist talents. Johnny Cash, who had hit records on the country charts, was not resigning his contract at Sun Records and going to Columbia. Elvis Presley, the star of the session, stopping by paying a casual visit with no intent to return to the record label while being accompanied by his girlfriend.
The Million Dollar Quartet was re-enacted in a theatrical musical at the Theatre at the Center in Munster, Indiana and I was able to witness greatness on March 22, 2019. The stage was well put together like a studio with pictures on the wall, five gold records hanging on the wall and a sign that said, “QUIET ON AIR RECORDING”. The stage set up gave me a visual that I had seen in movies like The Temptations and Cadillac Records. The lighting was utilized very well when they had to dim lights to focus on the narrator when he spoke or when they wanted to focus on all actors.
The production was informative about how each artist started their musical interest and family, but not too much about their life outside of the studio. Although, we know the role and impact each artist played within Sun Records, they also had a strong impact on a very diverse audience. Going into the theatre blind-sided didn’t leave me confused at all, I understood the play. I’d only heard of Elvis Presley growing up but the actors brought their characters to life so well that I knew them all by the end of the production.
The audience was able to see the life of the artists within the studio with making songs, disagreements, celebrations and sadly departures of some moving on to different record labels. The production also had performer-audience interactions, which sparked a connection between both.
Jerry Lee Lewis, the life of the party; historically known as rock-n-roll first great wild man kept everyone shaking. All the actors spoke to the crowd throughout the show, but Jerry Lee Lewis edged everyone out of their seats. The crowd was singing and shaking to his hit “Whole Lotta Shakin Going On”. The crowd was live and the theater was full, so to turn around seeing everyone up shaking was nothing short of amazing. I knew at that very moment, JOB WELL DONE!
The following day of seeing the show, I researched The Million Dollar Quartet finding that most of the story to be accurate except for Miss Dyanne (Aeriel Williams). Miss Dyanne was the girlfriend that accompanied Elvis Presley that night in the studio. She was a beauty with a powerful voice that Jerry Lee Lewis couldn’t resist. In the brochure the theatre gave to all guest, it was believed that her real name was Marilyn Evans and she was a dancer. Following my own research, it was said that Miss Marilyn Evans was a mystery figure. Some believed that Marilyn Evans was not her name and many did not remember a dancer by that name. Some say she never existed until the famous picture from the night of December 4, 1956, in the studio of Sun Records shows her sitting atop of the piano.
That famous picture of The Million Dollar Quartet including Dyanne is how the show ended, my favorite scene of the production. Sam Phillips is taking the picture and when the light from the camera flashes from white to blue, the actors sit in mannequin style while narration continues. That particular picture is the representation of Sun Records and its very own, Million Dollar Quartet on December 4th of 1956. And if pictures are worth a thousand words, this production is worth more than just a standing ovation.