Bringing together rock ‘n’ rolls most iconic stars, Tony Award-winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet reflects on the legendary impromptu jam session involving Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash in 1956 at the Sun Record Studios, Tennessee.
Inspired by one of the greatest jam sessions of all time, this feel-good musical transports its audience back to December 4th, 1956, where four star musicians gathered to make a spontaneous studio recording under the guidance of record producer and “Father of rock ‘n’ roll”, Sam Phillips (Jason Donovan).
Opening the show with “Blue suede shoes”, the whole cast cheerily blasted out the classic rockabilly track, displaying an impressive mix of musical talent from uncanny vocals to expert instrumental skills. One by one the singers entered the iconic studio, offering a taste of their top hits with a vibrant and youthful edge.
A huge part of what makes the show so successful is the fly on the wall angle, where theatregoers are invited to view the group from the outside, watching their entertaining repartee and gentle jesting. On the surface, we see a resentful Carl Perkins (Matt Wycliffe) who’s angry with Elvis Presley (Ross William Wild) for performing “Blue suede shoes” on TV without his permission, but we soon learn that this irritation spreads even further.
Divided into past and present scenes, the musical details how each star got their “lucky break”, highlighting the character development and also the effort put in by Phillips himself. Unfortunately, after selling Elvis for just $35,000 in order to pay bills, Phillips struggles to produce hit records, which leads to Johnny Cash (Robbie Durham) and Perkins signing up to Columbia records after their contracts end.
Of course, this lively show would never end on a dull note as the group reunite and get back to doing what they do best – jamming. Performing a range of songs such as Fever, That’s All Right, Great Balls of Fire, Walk the Line, Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on, Folsom Prison Blues, Hound Dog and many more, the stage was set alight with the dynamic renditions.
From the quick-witted lines, to the upbeat classic songs, Million Dollar Quartet offers a unique insight into the lives of the famous four and their playful interactions. Whether old or young, this musical is filled with a timeless exuberance that is sure to get even the squares up to dance.
Million Dollar Quartet runs at Birmingham Hippodrome Monday 24th – Saturday 29th October 2016. Show times: Mon – Sat Eves 7.30pm, Weds Mat 2pm, Sat Mat 2.30pm.
Words: Emma Walsh