On December 4, 1956, two stars, Johnny Cash (Scott Moreau) and Elvis Presley (Cody Slaughter) are joined by almost has-been Carl Perkins (Lee Ferris) and star to be Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye) gather at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, run by Sam Phillips (Christopher Ryan Grant) the man who found and mentored the aforementioned. This was the only time all four were recorded in the studio and that evening with Sam already having lost Elvis to RCA Victor and, unknowingly, was going to lose Cash and Perkins to Columbia records.
In the studio were Jay Perkins (Chuck Zayas), Carl’s brother who played Bass and Fluke (Billy Shaffer) playing drums. Also in the studio was Dyanne (Kelly Lamont) who was Elvis’s girlfriend at the time and a singer in her own right.
In between 23 songs sang, danced and played by the cast Sam Phillips tells what happened that night at the meeting of what was to become known as the Million Dollar Quartet. Along the way we hear songs like “Hound Dog”, “I Walk The Line”, “See You Later Alligator” and “Great Balls of Fire” as each get their moment in the spotlight and all singing the songs of the beginnings of rock and roll. In a departure Dyanne does a solo version of “Fever” and even Sam gets his licks in playing the harmonica in the ‘concert’ at the end when the guys don sequin dinner jackets.
The cast, with the exception of Scott Moreau, as Cash, have been together, touring, for over a year now and need a little shaking up as too many moves come across as automatic instead of spontaneous. When the guys are doing group numbers like “Down By The Riverside” their infectious fun comes across the lights and their ‘jamming’ at the end is pure joy for the audience.
The book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux works as the lead in to the songs and giving some history to what happened that December. The direction by Eric Schaeffer keeps the show moving but the choreography has to be freshened up.
“Million Dollar Quartet” starts the opening of the 2012-2013 theatre season offered by Broadway Across America, at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale ,getting it off to a rocking beginning.
Running time: 1 hour and forty-five minutes without an intermission. Strobe lights and on stage smoking. performances from November 6-18 and then tours to the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina and Baltimore Hippodrome.
Next at the Broward Performing Arts Center will be “Sister Act”