Review: MILLLION DOLLAR QUARTET at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Live Theater Returns to Central PA

Interview: William Draper of ELVIS: A MUSICAL REVOLUTION at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Performing arts are starting to make a comeback in Central Pennsylvania! Million Dollar Quartet opened at Dutch Apple Dinner Theater on September 17, and it serves as a solid choice to reacquaint local audiences with the unique magic of live theater. I was tempted to joke that it was the best show that I saw in the last six months, with the follow up punch line that it was the only show that I saw in the last six months. However, Million Dollar Quartet doesn't deserve my sarcasm. It's a good show. The production would be equally entertaining and fun before, during, or after the pandemic.

To address the elephant in the room, Dutch Apple has taken great care to make performers, staff, and audience feel safe and comfortable during these restrictive times. Social distancing seating is in place. Masks are required of patrons when they are not eating. The actors wear see-through face shields at times and have a plastic barrier affixed to their microphones. Considering musical theaters actors' penchant for spitting (did you see Jonathan Groff's Hamilton slobberfest?), I was very grateful. The face shields take a little bit of getting used to, but are a very small sacrifice, if this is what is needed for safety and health reasons. Dutch Apple's full list of safety measures can be found here.

Million Dollar Quartet is based on the 1956 one-night jam session with Sun Record's four biggest stars. Carl Perkins (Nathan Burke), Johnny Cash (Steve Lasiter), Jerry Lee Lewis (Trevor Dorner) and Elvis Presley (Jacob Barton) rock out to over two dozen classics from the golden era of rock n roll. Hits include some of their own such as Folsom Prison Blues and Hound Dog as well as covers of other artists hits like Sixteen Tons and See You Later, Alligator.

While the performers matched the look and mannerisms of the artists in varying degrees, their vocals were consistently top notch. These actors are also accomplished musicians, so everything that you see on stage is real and gives the show an additional layer of authenticity and fun.

Michael Santora did a great job as Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records and personal mentor for all four of these giants. While a bit young to suggest much paternal influence, Santora plays more of a big brother role for these guys. This is a bit unintentionally morbid considering the fate of many of these singers' real-life siblings.

Taylor Kraft rounds out the main cast as Dyanne, Elvis' smart and sexy gal pal. Her numbers, especially Fever, lent a welcomed woman's touch to this rowdy boys' club.

The plot of Million Dollar Quartet is fairly minimal and is the weakest aspect of the show. I don't think much would have been lost if the show was presented as some sort of fantasy oldies concert, so that you could throw in Buddy Holly and Bill Hailey, too. The plot basically serves as motivation to get the four together and have them perform some great hits...and as Elvis was fond of singing, that's alright, Mamma.

Million Dollar Quartet plays at Dutch Apple Dinner Theater now through November 7. Tickets, more info, menus and safety information can be found on their website.

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