MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET to Rock Pittsburgh CLO for the First Time This August
Inspired by the legendary impromptu jam session of 1956, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET tells the story of the day music stars collided at Sun Record Studios. With the iconic songs of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, this non-stop musical powerhouse is sure to rock the Benedum Center and leave audiences with a "Fever" for the '50s. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET is a must-see and the perfect way to say "See You Later Alligator" to Pittsburgh CLO's sizzling summer season.
The concept for Million Dollar Quartet came from a real-life event which occurred on December 4, 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins made history with an impromptu jam session at Sun Record Studios. This legendary gathering now comes to life onstage in a musical filled with hit songs that have echoed across the generations.
After a brief run in Daytona Beach, a ten-week engagement in Seattle and a stop in Chicago, Million Dollar Quartet finally took the Broadway stage in 2010 at the Nederlander Theatre. The show featured music and lyrics by the music icons of the '50s, direction by Eric D. Schaeffer and a book by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott. Million Dollar Quartet ran for two years, playing over 500 performances before its final Broadway performance in 2012. The show was nominated for two Tony Awards and lead actor Levi Kreis won a Tony Award for his performance in the role of Jerry Lee Lewis. In addition to the Broadway production, an international production premiered in London where it became a smash-hit, and the idea of the First National Tour of Million Dollar Quartet was born.
Due to its worldwide success, Million Dollar Quartet launched a permanent production for theater-goers to enjoy year-round in Las Vegas at Harrah's Casino and Hotel. The show ran for three years, closing in 2016.
ABOUT THE CAST:
JUSTIN BENDEL (Brother Jay) was most recently seen onstage as Eddie at the CLO Cabaret's Pump Boys & Dinettes. He began his long association with the CLO Cabaret during its inaugural show, Forever Plaid, for which he played 400+ performances. As a professional bassist, he actively plays many genres including various orchestras, jazz groups, singing competitions and studio work. With over sixty musicals to his credit, he is certainly no stranger to musical theater. Career highlights include: Patrizio Buanne US tour, Elaine Stritch, Tom Rocco and the legendary Ray Charles.
Billy Finn (Carl Perkins) is making his Pittsburgh CLO debut. A Brooklyn-based actor, writer and musician, Mr. Finn's New York credits include performances at Ars Nova, Judson Church, New Dramatists and the Drama League. Regionally, he has appeared at theatres around the country, including Shakespeare Theatre Company, Folger Theatre, Trinity Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, McCarter Theatre Center, the Kennedy Center, Theatre Under the Stars and many others. Mr. Finn's plays have been produced and workshopped at the Drama League, Vertigo Theatre, Playwrights Rep and First Draft. He is a graduate of the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Acting Program.
Christopher Grant (Sam Phillips) is a MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET veteran, having performed the show on Broadway, Off- Broadway, in the first National Tour and now with Pittsburgh CLO. His other New York credits include: Lincoln Center, The Public, Joe's Pub, New World Stages, The Wild Project, IRT, Rattlestick, Cherry Lane, The Red Fern and Three Day Hangover. Regional: Yale Rep., The Shakespeare Theatre D.C., NY Stage & Film, The MUNY, Delaware Theatre Company, Two River Theatre and The O'Neill. Film/TV: Rolling on the Floor Laughing, Hard Times For Softcore and Nella the Princess Knight. Training: University of Evansville, B.F.A., British American Drama Academy at Oxford, Yale School of Drama, M.F.A.
RJ Heid (Fluke) is making his Benedum Center stage debut. Mr. Heid is the drummer/percussionist for Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, CLO Cabaret, City Theater and Front Porch Theatricals. He received his Master's in Music Performance from Duquesne University.
Martin Kaye (Jerry Lee Lewis) is a British entertainer, pianist and singer-songwriter who has been playing Jerry Lee Lewis in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET for over five years - on the first US national tour, in Las Vegas (where he was awarded Best Actor by Vegas Seven Magazine), and most recently on the first UK tour. He has also recorded three albums, co-composed a musical, and has written an autobiographical one-man show.
Derek Keeling (Johnny Cash) will make his Pittsburgh CLO debut after appearing as Johnny Cash on the First National Tour of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET. He is best known for his run on NBC's Grease: You're the One That I Want, in which he placed third in Broadway's largest national casting call. His experience covers a wide range of dramas and musicals including his turn in the iconic role of Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli in Happy Days the Musical in Los Angeles and a pre-Broadway run of A Tale of Two Cities as Charles Darnay. Mr. Keeling starred in the regional premiere of All Shook Up and was hailed by critics as "that rarity seldom seen since the days of Cary Grant -- namely, a hunky guy who can play comedy."
James Snyder (Elvis) returns to Pittsburgh CLO after playing the role of Lt. Cable in SOUTH PACIFIC las summer. He is known for his roles in Broadway's If/Then, In Transit and Cry-Baby for which he received a Drama League Nomination. Other theatre credits include Casa Valentina (West Coast premiere), Rock Of Ages, Ever After (Papermill Playhouse), Carousel (Goodspeed Opera House), Fanny (Encores) and Johnny Baseball (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Mr. Snyder has sung at Carnegie Hall with the NY Pops and with the Hartford Symphony. TV: The Good Wife, Rizzoli and Isles, Blue Bloods, Drop Dead Diva, Gilmore Girls and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Film: She's The Man, An American in China, Shuttle, Pretty Persuasion, (Sundance) and Meth Head. Recordings: Bare: A Pop Opera and solo album LA Curse.
Zurin Villanueva (Dyanne) has been seen on Broadway in Shuffle Along and The Book of Mormon. Her regional credits include Ruined (Everyman Theater), Josephine Tonight! (Metrostage), Good News (Goodspeed Opera House), Aint Misbehavin' (Crossroads) and Crowns (Arena Stage). She received her B.F.A from Howard University.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM:
David Ruttura (Director) is currently the Associate/Resident Director of Broadway's School of Rock. Directing credits include Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (Ogunquit Playhouse & Gateway Playhouse), White Christmas (Gateway Playhouse), Hot Mess in Manhattan (Araca Project), Electra in a One-Piece (Good Company/The Wild Project), He Who Laughs Live:... by Isaac Oliver (TAI Group/Ars Nova), Moustache Guys by Mike Lew (Second Generation), Koberet (Joe's Pub), Eddie Goshen is Dead by Isaac Oliver (Fordham Playwriting Program) and Red, White and Purple (Ensemble Studio Theater). Film Credits include the web series Dick Punch and stalkTALK. Mr. Ruttura is a founder and the Artistic Director of Good Company. As an Associate Director, he has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regionally and Internationally. Select Associate/Assistant credits include Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, Follies, Lombardi, Million Dollar Quartet, White Christmas, A Man for All Seasons (Broadway), The Phantom of the Opera (Resident Director, National Tour), Farragut North (Atlantic Theater Company), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Roundabout Theatre Company), The Wiz and Fanny (City Center Encores!), Irving Berlin's White Christmas (12 productions nationally), Ben Hur Live (International Tour), Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Circus (Gold Unit 2007), Nerds (Philadelphia Theater Company), Most Happy Fella (New York City Opera), The Wiz and Zhivago (LaJolla Playhouse.)
James Cunningham (Music Director) joined Pittsburgh CLO for the first time this summer. Mr. Cunningham's New York credits include Avenue Q, music director for Bunnicula (TheaterworksUSA and original cast recording), Hot Mess In Manhattan (The Araca Project) and Happy Birthday (TACT) for which he also provided original music. His National Tour credits as pianist/conductor include Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Spamalot, Evita and Cats. For the past three seasons he has been a frequent music director for Casa Mañana where his credits include Million Dollar Quartet, Spamalot, Rent, Fiddler on the Roof, Les Misérables, Buddy...The Buddy Holly Story, Always...Patsy Cline and Cats. Regionally, he has also conducted productions for North Carolina Theatre, Sharon Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Engeman Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, The MUNY and Cape Fear Regional Theatre. He holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music and New York University.
ABOUT THE ORIGINAL CREATIVE TEAM:
Floyd Mutrux & Colin Escott (Book) created the book for Million Dollar Quartet after Mr. Mutrux came up with the original concept for the jukebox musical hit. Both Mutrux and Escott have impressive careers. Mr. Escott is a Grammy Award winner for his work on The Complete Hank Williams with Mercury Records and author of Good Rockin Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll. He co-produced Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues for PBS and BBC and is a consultant to Time Life Music. Mr. Mutrux has conceived, written, directed and produced 50 films, including American Hot Wax, Urban Cowboy, Untouchables, Up in Smoke, Hollywood Knights, among many others. The co-writing team's work on Million Dollar Quartet earned them a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical.
Eric D. Schaeffer (Director) is a six-time Helen Hayes Award© winner for his direction of countless productions. His Broadway credits include Gigi, Follies, Glory Days and Putting It Together. He has directed West End productions of The Witches of Eastwick and Million Dollar Quartet. Off-Broadway, he has directed Sweet Adeline and Under the Bridge. He has worked on numerous shows regionally, including The Witches of Eastwick, Mame, Saving Aimee, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion and Assassins, among many others. Mr. Schaeffer is known for co-founding the Signature Theatre where he serves as the Artistic Director and oversees the American Musical Voices Project, the largest musical commission program in the country. He has led the theater to great success, garnering 70 Helen Hayes Awards and the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2009.
Tickets are available online at pittsburghCLO.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or at the Box Office at Theater Square. Tickets start at $25. Groups of 10 or more enjoy exclusive discounts and specialty packages. Call our Group Sales Hotline at 412-325-1582 for more information. Visit pittsburghCLO.org for further information.
Since 1946, Pittsburgh CLO has been the driving force behind live musical theater in Pittsburgh and the entire Southwestern Pennsylvania region. Under the direction of Van Kaplan since 1997, this not-for-profit arts organization appreciates the support of nearly 200,000 patrons yearly who attend its performances at three venues in the Cultural District: a seasonal subscription series at the Benedum Center, A Musical Christmas Carol at the Byham Theater and year-round shows at the CLO Cabaret. Its dedication to the musical theater art form includes educational programs such as the CLO Academy for Performance and Art, the CLO Mini Stars, the Gene Kelly Awards, the Richard Rodgers Award and The National High School Theatre Awards. As part of its new works development, the organization has been involved with 22 Broadway shows (29 Tony Awards), and in 2014 produced the world premiere of An American in Paris, on Broadway (4 Tony Awards) and in London's West End. For more information, visit pittsburghCLO.org.
Photo Credit: Jay Goldsmith