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On one night in 1956, a gathering of the four biggest stars of that era occurred. Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins came together at Sun Records for an impromptu jam session. They became known as the Million Dollar Quartet, and the Broadway tour of the show of the same name tells the story of that night.
Going into the opening night of Million Dollar Quartet, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I ended up really liking the way the story was presented. Told in a mix of narration and in the style of a concert, the show was interactive, entertaining, and surprisingly touching. The story is narrated by Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. In the opening, he tells how Elvis is planning to stop by, and Sam is also planning on offering Johnny Cash a contract extension. As the various characters come into the story, we get to see some friendly (and some not-so-friendly) rivalries between them, and see the relationships between the four superstars.
The cast is simply phenomenal. As Sam Phillips, Vince Nappo is a great storyteller, bringing the audience into the story at the first second, and interacting with them throughout. As Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash respectively, James Barry and David Elkins are absolutely perfect, portraying two such well-known performers wonderfully. Cody Slaughter, as Elvis, is able to pull off the King of Rock and Roll with seeming ease, performing some of his well-known dance moves and singing his famous songs with conviction. And as Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben Goddard stole the show—his antics off to the side frequently pulled my attention and he brought a humor to the show that might have otherwise been missing, not to mention his talent at jamming at that piano.
For the members of the audience that come from that era of music, I could tell that they were very much enjoying seeing these familiar songs performed once again. For the younger members of the audience, myself included, it was fun to hear some familiar songs but to also hear some songs that I knew a bit less about. The story of Million Dollar Quartet was one that I was surprised to enjoy so much, but it’s a very engaging musical that made for an excellent night of theatre.
Million Dollar Quartet will be playing at the Palace Theatre in downtown Columbus through Sunday February 10.