In recent years, many theatre purists have derided the trend of Broadway jukebox musicals, but "Million Dollar Quartet", currently playing at the Fox Theatre, combines the best of all aspects of the genre; fusing the emotional reality of "Jersey Boys" with the infectious joy of "Smokey Joe's Cafe", to create a show that is as much rock and roll super concert as it is theatre.
Based on a real-life impromptu jam session at Sun Records Studio in December 1956 featuring the once-in-a-lifetime lineup of Elvis Presley (Cody Slaughter), Johnny Cash (David Elkins), Jerry Lee Lewis (Ben Goddard), and Carl Perkins (James Barry), "Million Dollar Quartet" is a fun show that will excite the entire family, from grandparents on down.
The four men playing the rock and roll icons, along with Kelly Lamont, who plays Elvis' sultry singer girlfriend Dyanne, provide what amounts to one of the best tribute band concerts you are ever likely to see, playing all of the show's music on-stage. Whether you grew up watching them on "Ed Sullivan", or you only know these legends from YouTube, the performers (some of which have more extensive acting backgrounds than others) provide instantly recognizable portrayals; from their physical appearances to their unique individual gyrations to, most importantly, their pitch-perfect singing voices. No matter what generation of rock and roll you grew up listening to, you can't help but have a smile on your face watching this incredibly talented cast.
Despite featuring some of the best music in American history, the show's true soul is found in the character of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips (played by Vince Nappo; read more about Nappo and his role here). Phillips, a self-made record mogul, not only guided the careers of these, and other rock legends, but helped each find their own authenticity and artistry; a message that rings especially true in today's world of generic, pre-packaged popular music. Nappo, who serves as a quasi-narrator for the show, expertly guides the audience through each artist's discovery and the eventual struggles of fame, fortune, and loyalty that Phillips and the quartet face. While a number of liberties were taken with the actual facts that surround this historic occasion, book writers Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux deliver an exhilarating musical experience that supplies a surprisingly emotional finale.
If you see the show at the Fox, make sure that you don't leave immediately after the curtain call, as a number of people did on Tuesday's opening night, as the quartet gives an encore that puts any Lloyd-Weber megamix to shame, the way only good old-fashioned rock and roll can. The show includes such classic songs as "Blue Suede Shoes", "Hound Dog", "Great Balls of Fire", "I Walk the Line", and many others.
"Million Dollar Quartet" runs one hour and fifty minutes with no intermission and is playing at Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre through Sunday, March 17. To get your tickets call 855-ATL-TIXX (855-285-8499) or visit www.FoxATLTix.com.