Million Dollar Quartet


By Bonnie Goldberg

Is your music wedded to the 1950’s? Do you identify with swivel hips and wild gyrations? Would you like to return to yesterday for your listening and dancing pleasures? If so, then do I have a musical marathon designed just for you. The date is December 4, 1956 and the sacred place is Memphis, Tennessee at a small recording studio named Sun Records run by Sam Phillips. On that memorable day four icons of the music world wander in and Mr. Phillips, the Father of Rock ‘n Roll, realizes the significance of that event.

Ivoryton Playhouse invites you to be front and center at Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux’s “Million Dollar Quartet” rocking the rafters until Sunday, June 25 when Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley perform an impromptu jam session, one that was smokin’ hot and unforgettable. “Million Dollar Quartet” recreates that one and only legendary day in the history of rock ‘n roll.

Think of it as a personal playlist of your favorite hits as these great tunes come tumbling out. Listen to “Great Balls of Fire,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Hound Dog,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” “Long Tall Sally” and “See You Later, Alligator.”

Carl Perkins (Luke Darnell) had come to Sun Records that day with his brother Jay (Kroy Presley) and Fluke (Jamie Pittle) as back up and Sam Phillips, (Ben Hope) the owner of Sun, added Jerry Lee Lewis, (Joe Callahan) a recent acquisition, to the mix as pianist. When Elvis Presley (John Rochette) dropped by with his girlfriend (Emily Mattheson), he added his voice to the cauldron and it was the final arrival of Johnny Cash (Jeremy Sevelovitz) that made the magical witch’s brew complete.

These guys, all at different stages of music fame, sat down and sang like a group of old friends, without rehearsals or formal plans, and Cowboy Jack Clement, the engineer, was smart enough to record it. There were jealousies and recriminations among the four, but music was the uniting element that made the day so memorable. It happened that day and never again.

Country music, rockabilly and rock ‘n roll merge and marry as these fellows sing just for the pure pleasure of the sound. For Sam Phillips, these four men were like his four sons and this show reveals a lot about their relationship, where they came from and where they were going. Sam gave each of them their chance and then promoted them to fame and success. It is a sensational staged recreation of the actual event.

Director Sherry Lutken brings us front and center to the excitement on a versatile studio set designed by Martin Scott Marchitto. Tate R. Burmeister’s sound rocks.

For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22, children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Prepare for an explosion and fireworks as this quartet hits all the right notes, with fancy flying fingers on guitars, bass, drums and piano, and voices close to heaven. Come and enjoy every perfect sound.