Russell Treyz’ Million Dollar Quartet, the smash hit currently playing at The Arts Centre of Coastal Carolina is a nostalgic, energetic musical that does a phenomenal job of telling a story. A rock n roll story about a moment in time that may not have ever happened. It is the true story of the famed recording session that impacted the diverse Memphis music scene, the careers of four musical legends and ultimately the world. The show is narrated by Sam Phillips, played by a dynamic, Colin Patrick Ryan, who captures the energy and optimism of the Sun Records founder.
Sun Sound, was born when Sam Phillips launched his record company in 1952.He named it Sun Records and launched it amid a growing number of independent labels. The Memphis studio, known for treating artists with respect and honesty was where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins found their voice. On the afternoon of December 4, 1956, all four artists were in the same place at the same time. They recorded in an impromptu jam session that would soon lead them to be known as Million Dollar Quartet. The published article and photo that followed is an iconic piece of music history documenting the music greats chance meeting.
Act 1 authentically sets the scene for the famous recording by the quartet. The exceptionally talented cast replicates the events of that afternoon in Memphis where the four young musicians meet only once. It is a bit surreal, to peer into their interactions and listen to the music that occurred behind the walls of Sun’s storefront studio. The actors are so well-cast with the likeness of their characters; the show becomes increasingly realistic. Elvis, the most celebrated musical personality in American entertainment is brilliantly played by look-alike, Christopher Fordinal. Carl Perkins, who was trying to recapture the earlier success he had with Blue Suede Shoes, is played by a very convincing Luke Darnell. Johnny Cash, who had given up selling home appliances and his early records, became smash hits was Jeremy Sevelowitz’s low register voice rivals his counterpart’s. Jerry Lee Lewis’ first record had only been out three days, but he had a certain confidence his success would soon surpass them all. John Countryman portrays an unrestrained exuberance as Lewis.
As the story goes, Presley dropped in for a casual visit to Sun Records. He listened in to a playback of the Perkins’ session with Phillips and then went into the studio where the jam session would later occur. Phillips left the tapes running to capture the moment. At some point during the session, Cash popped in, and as Lewis pounded the keys, Elvis, and his girlfriend, Marilyn Evans slipped out. Evans, played by the beautiful, Elizabeth DeRosa shares great on stage chemistry with Fordinal. As each character joined the set, the music amped up, and the audience was dazzled with spot-on vocal performances of some of the most popular songs of the era. The actors skillfully portrayed every nuance of their characters including their mannerisms and distinct vocals.
After a winning line-up of rock hits such as, “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” Sixteen Tons,”Great Balls of Fire,”Walk the Line,”Whole Lotta Shaking Going On,”Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog”, the audience witnesses the crescendo moment in which the quartet sings together, gathered around the piano in the well-known photograph.
Trey makes it easy to let your imagination go and journey back in time to the moment of this unforgettable Memphis recording. The realistic studio set and the realism of the actors’ uncanny resemblance and sound of the Million Dollar Quartet will leave you mesmerized. Be prepared to tap, clap and sing along with the remarkable cast. The Tony Award-winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet ends the 2015/2016 Season at The Arts Centre of Coastal Carolina. The 2016/2017 season includes Pride & Prejudice, White Christmas, Leading Ladies, Sister Act and Mama Mia. Tickets $47 for adults and $33 for children. Season tickets and group rates are available. Box Office: 843-842-ARTS843-842-ARTS (2787) or online at tickets.artshhi.com