Thursday evening at the Stranahan Theater, “Million Dollar Quartet” made its Toledo premiere, and Lee Ferris as legendary rock star Carl Perkins sang “Who Do You Love?” By the end of the performance, it was clear the Toledo audience loved the entire cast.
The performances of Lee Ferris (Perkins), Johnny Countryman (Jerry Lee Lewis), Tyler Hunter (Elvis Presley) and Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash) amazed the audience. Along with cast members Vince Nappo (Sam Phillips) and Kelly Lamont (Dyanne), the show brought humor and great renditions of such classic tunes as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Based on a true story, “Million Dollar Quartet” depicts the night of December 4, 1956. Sam Phillips, the owner Sun Records, has brought the four singers together. Phillips launched the careers of the musicians in his little storefront studio in Memphis. According to a newspaper reporter who witnessed the gathering, that evening resulted in one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll jam sessions in history.
However, the show did not seem like a history lesson or a boring documentary. Countryman performed as a brash, young Lewis who had just been signed by Phillips, and his imitation of Jerry Lee’s antics on the piano, such as playing it with his elbow, foot and butt, made people chuckle. Countryman also kept the audience laughing with zingers and one-liners, and he stole many scenes in the show.
But it was the singing that made the evening. Tyler Hunter, as Presley, imitated the hip shaking and arm-flailing of Presley while belting out tunes “That’s All Right,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Hound Dog.” Yet he also crooned slower songs like “Peace in the Valley.” Hunter brought the complete Presley package, and the audience adored it.
Scott Moreau captured the voice of Johnny Cash on songs “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire” while aiming his guitar like the late, great musician. Kelly Lamont added some sexy steam to the show with knockout performances of “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking.” The night ended with a surprise visit. W.S. “Fluke” Holland was the actual drummer for the dream jam session almost sixty years ago, and he attended Thursday’s performance. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he rose to his feet for a wave to the audience.
If you can, you should see this show before it leaves Toledo. Four more performances will be given: two on both Saturday and Sunday. See the Stranahan Theater website for times and tickets. Tickets start at $28. Tickets may be purchased in person or by phone at 419.385.8851.
The Stranahan Theater has recently presented other Broadway shows such as “STOMP,” “Rock of Ages” and “American Idiot.” Coming soon is “West Side Story,” another award winning Broadway musical.
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