MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Review Roundup
On December 4, 1956, an auspicious twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley together. The place was Sun Records' storefront studio in Memphis. The man who made it happen was Sam Phillips, the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll," who discovered them all. The four legends-to-be united for the only time in their careers for an impromptu recording that has come to be known as one of the greatest rock jam sessions of all time.
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET features a treasure trove of the greatest rock 'n' roll, gospel, R&B and country hits from these music legends, including such iconic songs as "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "Sixteen Tons," "Who Do You Love?," "Great Balls of Fire," "Riders in the Sky," "I Walk the Line," "Folsom Prison Blues," and "Whole Lotta' Shakin' Goin' On." MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET captures the infectious spirit, freewheeling excitement and thrilling sounds of a singular moment when four of the music industry's most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, came together for one of the most memorable nights in music history.
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: "The splashy encore, when the plot is finished and the guys don glittery suits descended from on high, whips the crowd into a predictable frenzy. But for me the most rewarding moments in the show were the more casual ones, when the four singers joined together to harmonize on those spirituals. These were among the songs actually played at this impromptu gig - most of the playlist in the show was not - and they give the strongest indication of the magic that must have taken place, as four great musicians with troubled lives and complicated careers came together to forget everything but what they loved to do most: express the riotous joy, beauty and sadness of life in songs that shoot straight for the soul."
Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press: "If there is a scene-stealer in "Million Dollar Quartet," it's Levi Kreis as the more than ebullient Lewis, whose confidence - and his piano-playing - can't be contained."
Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly: "The vocal performances are mostly impressive, particularly as the four instrument-playing impersonators act as their own on-stage orchestra in cahoots with the sturdy two-man rhythm section of drummer Larry Lelli and bassist Corey Kaiser. Elizabeth Stanley also proves herself a solid chanteuse as Presley's lady friend Dyanne. "
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter: "Running a fast-paced 95 minutes, "Quartet" never wears out its welcome. And audience members would be well advised not to rush out during curtain calls, as the encore is a succession of wildly energetic musical numbers that are the highlights of the show."
David Sheward, Backstage: "When the curtain call is the most exciting part of a show, it's definitely a problem. Such is the case with "Million Dollar Quartet," the latest attempt to turn pop nostalgia into Broadway box-office gold."
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: "Folks are paying a lot of money and some of them like to know where that money went. But the finale is really about the music. And in this case, the money would have been far better spent on hiring a decent dramatic writer who could have added some subtlety and veracity to a crude book from Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux that still dispenses thudding anecdote, easy trivia and crude linkage instead of the live, credible, complex conversation of a quintet of icons of American rock ‘n' roll. "
Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: "Lovers of old school rock ‘n' roll will get a big bang out of "Million Dollar Quartet," a mighty slick jukebox musical powered by a dynamite song stack and dynamic portrayals of the four legends singing ‘em."
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: "So now we know the truth: Elvis wasn't nearly as sexy as Carl Perkins or as charismatic as Jerry Lee Lewis. That revelation, however fictional, is the most entertaining aspect of Million Dollar Quartet (**½ out of four), the patronizing new jukebox musical that opened Sunday at the Nederlander Theatre."
Stephanie Zacharek, NY Mag: "The actors—all four of them crackerjack singers and musicians—distill the essence of their real-life counterparts without succumbing to excessive caricature."
John Simon, Bloomberg News: "Admittedly no fan of rock ‘n’ roll, I assume that only the most monomaniacal rocker could find the pseudo-musical “Million Dollar Quartet” anything more than a jam session periodically interrupted by desperate attempts to whip up some drama. The amplification to arena volume shoehorned into a mere Broadway theater treats one’s eardrums as percussion instruments"
Peter Marks, The Washington Post: "The lack of pretense is a particular virtue, because the four non-household names who play the singers -- Eddie Clendening, Lance Guest, Robert Britton Lyons and most especially, Levi Kreis as a caffeinated Jerry Lee -- have the vocal chops, the skills with piano and gee-tar and the folksy charm to carry the evening off. Although the loose biographical stitching doesn't add up to much, the show, which had its official opening Sunday night at the Nederlander Theatre, kicks up an exhilarating fuss each time one of the stars takes the mike."
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: "Back in the '50s, some peo ple thought rock 'n' roll was "the devil's music." It was "temptation, fornica tion and damnation in that order," Jerry Lee Lewis explains in the new Broadway show "Million Dollar Quartet." But don't worry: This rockabilly musical is as wholesome as a PBS concert -- the only thing lacking is a pledge drive."
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: "A few things are missing from "Million Dollar Quartet," a jukebox musical that'd fit right in on the Vegas Strip: a buffet dinner, slot machines and, more importantly, a story."