Center Stage: Rock on with Broadway Palm’s national tour and 169th production of ‘Million Dollar Quartet’
If you don’t snap your fingers, tap your toes and shake, rattle and roll in your seat while watching the “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Palm , then you’re out of touch with having a “blast from the past.”
According to legend, in 1956 four good ol’ country and rock ‘n’ roll icons met, teased and played “catch up” with each other for one unforgettable night in 1956, at Sam Phillips’s Memphis storefront recording studio, Sun Records. Phillips, known as the father of rock ‘n’ roll, brought together Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and an yet unknown, Jerry Lee Lewis, for an all-day historic jam session, the likes of which has never been duplicated.
This Broadway, Tony Award Winning, 2010 juke box musical has no delusions of grandeur. It presents itself as a straight up portrait of an extraordinary happening. This lack of pretense works brilliantly because the noniconic names of the talented cast who portray the four legends: Carl Perkins- Christopher Wren; Johnny Cash- Evan Buckley Harris; Jerry Lee Lewis- Jason Cohen and Elvis Presley- Skip Robinson.
All of the above have the vocal chops, physical looks and moves, plus the musical skills on piano and gee-tar, added to the homesy, folksey charm necessary to carry off this incredible evening while they rock the roof off of the Palm’s main stage.
Although the script is simply the glue that ties the show together, the show kicks butt in the exhilarating high gear each and every time one of the “stars” take center stage.
This rock ‘n’ roll, high gear polish also extends to a fifth performer, a fictitious girlfriend of Elvis’s named Dyanne (played to the hilt by Jacky Good); she morphs into a singer a la Peggy Lee with a rendition of her gold record standard “Fever.” Good turns up the heat and musically burns the song as well as wows the audience.
Loren Soban has directed and cast this incredible production with such skill and inventiveness as to ensure that the evening unfolds smoothly with just the right amount of high energy, which allows each actor/singer to find his own way to performing something far more invigorating and inventive, rather than becoming a copy-cat lounge act impersonation.
Skip Robinson was not only committed to truth, but spot on at portraying “the King” Elvis. He is simply mesmerizing as required, using his voice, knees, hips, and lips to do his acting. All I can add is AAAAAHHHH as loud as I can, which I might add I did, knocking my bobbi socks clean off!
Evan Buckley Harris wins the audience’s approval and applause each and every time he sustains Johnny Cash’s low notes, soulful lyrics and Cash’s special guitar stylizations. Terrific!
As Carl Perkins the least flamboyant of the “fab four” Christopher Harris hits it out of the park, by getting up close and right on with his musical style and ease. Some of his guitar riffs were merely awesome!
In the showiest, off the charts role of Jerry Lee Lewis, belongs to the group’s wildest, craziest talent to hit the Palm’s stage in a long while, that accolade goes to Jason Cohen. Cohen plays this role of a flashy, hot tempered, cocky Jerry Lee right off the charts, as well as off the keyboard. Lewis is this group’s up and comer in this production with the most to prove. Cohen’s Lewis’ has a brash, goof ball kind of charm, with a thrashing keyboard style that is an ohmygod, impressive take on Lewis’s pyretic dexterity. For this manic, calorie burn form of playing, the high powered Cohen makes the deepest impression; it’s a hot flashy showman playing an equally blistering showman. Burn baby, burn!
As Sam Phillips, the father of rock ‘n’ roll, Matthew Scott as Phillips was ideal; he plays the guy who not only carries a lot of the plot line’s backstory, he was also the recording dude who was responsible for launching each legend’s career, as well as the force behind bringing these four together for one last historic jam session in that December 1956. Right on Scott!
Kudos also must go to two other talented cast members who complete this cast:
Jody Alan Lee- playing Jay Perkins (Carl Perkins’s older brother) and Bass Player
Matthew Scott- playing W.S. “Fluke” Holland & Drummer.
Bottom line, if you’re up for high energy musicianship done in a rockin’ rollin’ beat, with rockabilly rhythms that get your heart palpitatin’, your hips to shakin’, your feet to movin’, fingers snappin’, hands clappin’, and your voice to screamin’, then “Million Dollar Quartet” is the show for you. If not, you better check and see, if you’re still breathin’.
You can start the shake, rattle and roll movin’ by phon’en the Box Office at 278-4422; and do it now, since this show closes on Nov. 21, and I’d lay odds that this show will sell out fast. When you phone, remind ’em Marsha sent you!