FRIDAY 5 (+1) on Tuesday: Arts Center of Cannon County's MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
True, it's only Tuesday, but today's early-in-the-week edition of Friday 5 (+1) is so packed with interesting information and reasons for you to make reservations to see Million Dollar Quartet at Arts Center of Cannon County, we just couldn't control ourselves! And we're guessing you'll need the extra time to secure your tickets to see what director Darryl Deason promises will be one of the best shows of the year. May we suggest, therefore, that you read on in anticipation of Friday's opening night performance...
Chad McGee (Sam Phillips)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? The one I probably remember best was the first experience of Les Miserables at TPAC. I spent 10-15 minutes not quite understanding a word then it suddenly clicked and came alive.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Sonic Drive-In Route 44 Diet Sprite with Diet Cherry.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? First show I was ever in, way back in high school. Ten Little Indians. I died on stage and the narrator/killer skipped about eight pages of dialogue to my death. The cast all scurried to their spots, and I proceeded to die, way prematurely.
Who is your theatrical crush? Hmm, my wife, whom I started falling for while doing Candide in college. One of my costumes were an old pair of dry rotting shorts. She got permission from the costumer to rip them off me at the end of the final performance. Clearly, she was memorable.
What is your dream role? Maybe, Javert in Les Miserables, but only because there's a slight chance I could actually manage to sing that role.
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET? The cast of young actors playing the Quartet are phenomenal and nail these great classic songs. It's a treat to hear at every rehearsal.
Savannah Michelle Grimm (Dyanne)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? It was actually at The Arts Center of Cannon County, when I was a freshman in college. I got to star as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical 2. I was broke and could barely afford the gas to make it to rehearsals, but it was honestly the most fun summer I've ever had. My best friend, to this day, is a fellow cast member from that show. It changed my life!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Try not to pee my pants...yawn nervously, non-stop...Apologize in advance to my cast mates...
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? Either every show I've ever been in has gone completely smoothly, or I've blacked out those traumatic moments from my memory.
Who is your theatrical crush? Honestly, probably every single guy we have in Million Dollar Quartet. They're all so talented, and it's been so fun to watch them bring their characters to life. I'm going to do my best to be worthy of sharing the stage with them!
What is your dream role? Velma Kelly in Chicago. To any casting directors out there, call me if you're desperate enough.
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET? Because this show truly is going to be fun. Some of the most iconic music of all time will be featured, everyone can sing along, and I may fall flat on my face once or twice. It's going to be great!
Dave Perry (Brother Jay)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? I had seen several high school musicals but jersey boys on Broadway was the first experience that really changed my views on theatre.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I like to get to the theatre early and into costume as soon as possible to get into character.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? The last MDQ I did due to a scheduling error I had to go on for Johnny Cash. The guy who usually plays Johnny Cash went on for Carl Perkins and I brought a friend unrelated to the theatre on to cover me on bass. Johnny Cash was the most unlikely part for me to play, I really had to push myself to get it there without changing the keys of the songs.
Who is your theatrical crush? My girlfriend is the only crush I have at the current moment. She's a pinup model, so that's kinda theatrical, right?
What is your dream role? Tommy DeVito or Nick Massi in Jersey Boys.
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET? Rockabilly is the first form of music that shook the world. It's had a profound impact on my life and many others, let's make sure it never dies!
Daxton Patrick (Jerry Lee Lewis)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? I performed in my first ever production when I was 8 years old. I was in the children's choir of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. I don't remember much from it, I do remember, however, the scary but exhilarating feeling that rushes through you when a crowd full of people revert their attention to you. It's like a drug!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Well, considering this is my only other show since Joseph, I would have to say I don't have one yet, but ask me again in a couple of weeks.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? I catch allergies at the worst possible times. So, I was in high school my senior year gearing up for my last State Beta Club conference. My school has entered in group talent and I had a third of the performance to sing. Unfortunately, I decide to get a frog in my throat that weekend instead of earlier, so essentially, I spent most of the time before shows drinking hot tea and taking meds. I still went on because you know as they say...the show must go on. We still got first place, despite my pitchy performance.
Who is your theatrical crush? I would have to say our Dyanne aka Savannah Grimm. After seeing her performance, you'll say the same thing - all the more reason to come see Million Dollar Quartet!
What is your dream role? I would say that I'm currently playing it! Singing, playing, dancing, and acting like Jerry Lee Lewis is all that I've hoped for it to be so far. It's loads of fun!
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET?
Do you like live music? Do you like humor? Do you like drama? Do you like seeing an energetic show that will keep you thoroughly entertained and dancing in your seat? If you said no to these then you probably shouldn't come see Million Dollar Quartet.
Jacob Miller (Carl Perkins)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? The first time I can remember seeing or performing on a theater stage was with a Taiko Drumming group when I was in first or second grade. I got to dress up in a traditional Japanese kimono and put on face paint. I was hooked!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I'm not really superstitious. I think the best way to be ready for a show is good preparation and practice.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? I was the piano accompanist for a production of Nunsense, and the sisters skipped half of a song. We just kept plowing through like it never happened! I don't think anyone outside the cast noticed..
Who is your theatrical crush? The beautiful and talented Savannah Grimm, of course!
What is your dream role? Not that I would ever want to play this role, but my favorite to watch is Ché from Evita. Maybe this is because Mandy Patinkin performed the role, and he's fantastic.
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET? Four reasons. Justin Foster as Elvis Presley, Stephen Hardy as Johnny Cash, Daxton Patrick as Jerry Lee Lewis, and Savannah Grimm as Dyanne. This group is filled with such incredible voices and stage presence that I dare everyone to not twist in their seat!
Stephen Carlisle Hardy (Johnny Cash)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? The Ruffin Theater in Covington, Tennessee.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Talking to people in Johnny Cash's voice.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? Favorite "show must go on" moment: When I played Johnny Cash in MDQ at Playhouse on the Square, there was a power outage the day of our final show at the theater, caused by a big storm in Memphis the night before. I thought, "Man, this is going to be such a bummer to cancel the show." But once people started filling up the lobby we all knew they deserved to see a show, power or no power. So, we gave them one, we set up chairs and the band in the glass lobby and it was one of my best memories of that entire run. Terrible acoustics, no working guitar amplifiers, but a lot of laughter and fun- perfect imperfection. The intimacy with the audience was refreshing. Also, being a smaller crowd than usual, I was able to connect with people afterwards, most notably a group from Dyess, Arkansas who grew up with Johnny Cash. That was a great way to end the run in Memphis.
Who is your theatrical crush? Julie Adams in Creature from the Black Lagoon.
What is your dream role? I actually can't think of a better role for me than Johnny Cash or Carl Perkins in MDQ. I'm just such a big fan of both. I think it would be fun to be in a play like Arsenic and Old Lace or Harvey because those were some of my favorite plays that I saw as a kid.
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET? The show tells an interesting story. It captures the early careers of these four groundbreaking musicians, and the very formation of rock and roll as we know it today. It tells the story of Sam Phillips, the man who made all of this music possible with The Memphis Recording Service (later Sun Studio). Live music - the music gives today's generation an idea of what it would have been like to see these musicians live in the 50s.
Justin Foster (Elvis Presley)
What was your first taste of "live, onstage" theater? I did a few plays back in high school theatre and we did really well and had a blast. It's funny how some things never change, like being told to slow my words and speak louder. But I'm really glad to have had the chance to start young. Thanks, Mrs. Mac!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Staying relaxed and not letting my heart rate get too out of hand. The energy before a show is very powerful and I just like to take a moment to soak up as much as I can.
What is your favorite "the show must go on" moment? Fortunately, there aren't too many of these to choose from on a theatre stage, but I do remember singing music on the streets as a means to make money when I first moved to Nashville and this overly excited young lady fell into my mic stand and busted my lips all up haha. I FinishEd Strong, blood and all.
Who is your theatrical crush? Is this a good time to fan boy over Savannah Grimm? MDQ is lucky to have this darling.
What is your dream role? I don't care how cliché this is about to get but c'mon? Of course, Elvis. TCB, baby! I think we've all dreamed of what it would be like to be Elvis Presley. Many dream roles out there but nothing like the king. I Just have to make sure to stretch before taking on this one, haha. The universe works in mysterious ways. I was an 18-year-old kid getting an Elvis tattoo and now I'm strapping on some blue suede shoes.
Why should people come see MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET? MDQ is just a beautiful piece of art. Hands down best play I've ever seen, it really shows you what it was like for these young men in the early parts of their careers. It's very moving and you can really feel their spirits. Gave me goosebumps numerous times throughout. MDQ is a time capsule to the fifties and the rock n roll feels so good.
About the show
He may have directed more than 100 shows in the near-half century that Darryl Deason has been bringing theater to life on stages all over Middle Tennessee. But it's clear when the 2015 First Night Honoree talks about his latest project - the Tony Award-winning Million Dollar Quartet - that this one is something special indeed.
In fact, Deason has been singing the praises of his cast, a collection of skilled actors brought together by happenstance, luck and serendipity, for months, beginning the production process early to accommodate their differing schedules and peripatetic lives as journeymen actors. And with opening night now less than two weeks away, theater impresario Deason is eager to show audiences who come to Woodbury for the show what all the fuss is about.
Tennessee audiences have already been treated to multiple productions across the state including stellar and critically acclaimed productions at Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse, Memphis' Playhouse on the Square and Clarksville's Roxy Regional Theatre - professional theatres in East, West and Middle Tennessee that have justifiably impressive reputations.
Deason, who has been directing for 49 years (for Bedford Youth Players, Bedford Players, Nashville's Circle Players, Murfreesboro Little Theatre, Cannon Community Playhouse, and The Arts Center of Cannon County), believes that the upcoming Arts Center of Cannon County rendition of the show - which features a book by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott - will compare favorably with any production, whether by a professional or community theater, that you might see anywhere.
Described as a "jukebox musical," but offering so much more than that name might suggest, Million Dollar Quartet dramatizes the legendary million dollar quartet recording session at Memphis' Sun Studios on December 4, 1956, when producer Sam Phillips brought together Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley - music legends at various stages in the arc of each man's career - to play together for what was the first and only time.
That historic musical gathering provided the genesis of the musical that opened on Broadway in 2010 (and on London's West End in 2011) and won a Tony Award for Tennessean Levi Kreis' performance as flamboyant piano man Jerry Lee Lewis. Kreis, a native of Oliver Springs, attended Nashville's Belmont University and has enjoyed a successful career as a recording artist and performer since leaving the cast of Million Dollar Quartet after his Tony win.
Million Dollar Quartet will be performed at Arts Center of Cannon County September 15-30, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday nights and 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors, and are available at www.artscenterofcc.com.
Deason's talented cast - which includes Stephen Hardy as Johnny Cash, Justin Foster as Elvis Presley, Jacob Miller as Carl Perkins and Daxton Patrick as Jerry Lee Lewis - will be performing on WSMV Channel 4's Today in Nashville on Thursday, September 14, at 11 a.m. to offer viewers a tempting slice of life from the show.
About the cast
Stephen Hardy plays Johnny Cash. Hardy hails from Brighton, Tennessee, and has spent the past 10 years in upstate South Carolina. He is a graduate of Erskine College, with a degree ini American Studies. He began playing the guitar at 14, performing as a soloist at 18, as well as with his rockabilly band The Nite Owls. He recently began performing as part of a music duo with Dave Perry, recently cutting an album in Virginia. Hardy understudied the roles of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins at La Comedia Dinner Theater in Springboro, Ohio, last fall and has played the role of Carl Perkins at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts in Fredericksburg, Virginia in January, 2017. He's played Johnny Cash twice before, at Memphis' Playhouse on the Square during spring of this year, followed by a performance as Cash at Wohlfahrt Dinner Theater this summer. He will once again play Johnny Cash in February, 2018 for the Legacy Theatre in Tyrone, Georgia.
Dave Perry is Brother Jay, and has been a lifelong 1950s rock n roll, rockabilly and country fan, starting his record collection when he was 12. He was 16 when he started playing upright bass and at 20 went to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City to study musical theater. "When I first started auditioning one of my weirdest survival jobs was selling waterproof watches for two weeks," he says. He booked his first Million Dollar Quartet production last year at an Equity Theatre and will have done the show four times by the start of 2018. Perry has been a recording artist for several years and now performs as half of a musical duo with Stephen Hardy.
Justin Foster as Elvis Presley: "We pride ourselves at The Arts Center of Cannon County on our excellent casting and we will go to any means possible to get a great cast," says Deason. "Our casting story of Justin Foster as Elvis Presley is arguably the best one yet! In March, I was having dinner at a new Nashville restaurant prior to a concert at The Schemerhorn Symphony Center." He noticed a handsome busboy with a dark pompadour and a vintage microphone tattoo on his forearm. Deason asked his waiter the name of this Elvis lookalike, and called Justin over to ask if he was a musician and, perhaps more importantly, could he sing like Elvis Presley? (As a busboy in Nashville, of course Justin was a musician - duh!) Justin then revealed his tattoo of Elvis on his shoulder and two weeks later, he was cast as Elvis Presley in The Arts Center of Cannon County's production of Million Dollar Quartet.
Justin hails from Cut and Shoot, Texas, and at 21 piled all of his belongings in his pick-up truck and set out to be a country music star. He drove to Austin, Texas, and then to Nashville and played guitar on the sidewalks and slept in his truck. He even went to auditions for the CMT series Sun Records, which was based on Million Dollar Quartet. Justin performed in high school theatre in Cut and Shoot, but MDQ at ACCC is first role in a musical.
Jacob Miller plays Carl Perkins. Cannon County native Jacob Miller portrays the Jackson, Tennessee-bred "King of Rockabilly" Carl Perkins. Jacob has lived in Cannon County all of his life and was graduated from Cannon County High School, now attending Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. An accomplished pianist and guitarist, Jacob began taking piano lessons in the fifth grade and added guitar lessons in the sixth grade. This is Jacob's first time in a role on the ACCC stage, but he began playing in production orchestras, beginning with Beehive, and he continues to play both piano or guitar in various shows.
Daxton Patrick is Jerry Lee Lewis. Cannon County native Daxton Patrick portrays the incredible piano playing Jerry Lee Lewis. Dax attended Woodland Elementary School and graduated from Cannon County High School, and now attends MTSU. He has played piano since the age of 10 and is excited to perform on the ACCC stage, performing this music of Million Dollar Quartet. MDQ marks his return to ACCC since his appearance in the children's chorus of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 11 years ago!
Savannah Michelle Grimm is cast as Dyanne, Elvis Presley's showgirl paramour in Million Dollar Quartet. She is best known as 107.5 The River's Savannah, of the IHeartRadio's Woody and Jim Show, where she also serves as the station's music director. She can be found on the Nashville airwaves bright and early every weekday morning. ACCC audiences will recognize her as Gabriella in the 2010 production of High School Musical 2. She attended MTSU and lives in Murfreesboro, where she is known as the mom of her son Wolfy.
Chad McGee as Sam Phillips. Chad hails from McMinnville, where he is a teacher in the Warren County School System. He has appeared at the Arts Center of Cannon County in several shows, including Jungle Book and Mornings at Seven. He recently directed Lyle the Crocodile.
Michael Toman plays Fluke and is a professional drummer from East Tennessee who attended MTSU and has appeared at ACCC in productions of Memphis the Musical and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.