BWW Review: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET at Fulton Theatre

BWW Review: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET at Fulton Theatre

Million Dollar Quartet is a raw, lively, and vibrant night of theater. Based loosely on real events, the show takes place at the Sun Studios Recording Studio on December 4, 1956. It assembled what can best be described as a jam session with the dream team of early rock 'n' roll. The score consists of 22 of the most well-known and well-loved songs of the 1950's including "Hound Dog", "I Walk the Line", and "Great Balls of Fire".

The group consists of the insecure Carl Perkins (James Barry), wacko showboat, Jerry Lee Lewis (Brandyn Day), cross-over country star, Johnny Cash (Scott Moreau), and Sun Record's prodigal son, Elvis Presley (Ari McKay Wilford). The four leads are consistently believable and immensely talented. Their portrayals highlight the musicians' quirks, styles, and mannerism without ever veering off into exaggeration. All instruments are played live on stage by the performers, which gives the show a sense of immediacy and excitement.

Jason Loughlin plays Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, and "ringmaster" to this "circus". He serves as the narrator and propels the events of the story forward. Loughlin exudes confidence and experience in his portrayal. He made it easy to believe that his talent had great respect and appreciation for him, even if they didn't always agree with his choices.

Brittany Danielle serves as Dyanne, a singer/girlfriend of Presley, who adds her own spin to classics like "Fever" and "I Hear You Knockin'". She does a fine job of adding a woman's touch to this 1950's boys club. Eric Scott Anthony (Brother Jay) and Zach Cossman (Fluke) round out the eight person cast as on-stage accompanying musicians on drums and bass.

Director, Hunter Foster has extensive experience directing multiple productions of this show over the years. He must have a deep admiration and appreciation for this show and it is reflected on stage. He is especially adept at ensuring the portrayals of these music icons never veer off into parody.

Costumes, props and lighting by Travis M. Grant, Katelin Walsko, and Matthew Demascolo, respectively, were relatively simple, but appropriate for the needs of this show, where the music is the star. However, I was confused by some of the set design choices. The show is supposed to be set inside a recording studio. However, details including unnecessary steps, a decorative, exterior door, and what appears to be wooden siding (acoustic tiles?) suggested the singers were performing outside on someone's front lawn. While this is a small criticism, it was a constant reminder since this is basically a one-set show.

Million Dollar Quartet is the kind of show that invites dancing in the aisles. It is a fun and memorable blast from the past. The show runs now through May 20. Tickets and more information can be found on the theater website.

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From This Author Rich Mehrenberg

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