July 2016

Elvis, Cash, Perkins & Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet: Pure Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven

Author: Andrea Gannon | Photographer: TR MEDIA WORLD

Rock legends come to life onstage at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in the regional premiere of Million Dollar Quartet. No, it’s not a tribute band or even a concert. It’s a full-blown, fabulous Tony-award-winning Broadway musical, illuminating a once-in-a-lifetime night in rock ’n’ roll history. It all happened on December 4, 1956, when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins came together, mostly by chance, to make music at what would be one of the greatest impromptu jam sessions ever.

That now-famous recording session was held at the iconic Sun Records recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee. With a talented cast of eight professional actors/musicians, the show brings to light the extraordinary story of broken promises, secrets, and the celebration of four friends that is both poignant and heartwarming.

The four lead actors who inhabit these musical pioneers are, themselves, infinitely talented, and don’t just play the roles but play the music too. Christopher Fordinal is Elvis Presley, who “looks just like the young King of Rock ’n’ Roll and sounds like him too,” according to Russell Treyz, director of the show.

Rounding out the quartet are Jeremy Sevelovitz (Johnny Cash), who has played the icon before; Johnny Countryman (Jerry Lee Lewis), who portrayed the musical powerhouse on the national tour; and, Luke Darnell (Carl Perkins), fresh from the Las Vegas show of Million Dollar Quartet. Actress and singer Elizabeth DeRosa plays Elvis’s girlfriend (at the time of the jam session), Dyanne, and has a host of Broadway and national tour credits including having performed Mary Poppins (understudy for Mary) on Broadway.

The show is narrated by Sam Phillips (Colin Patrick Ryan), the founder of Sun Records, where all four of these musicians got their start. Phillips steps forward in between songs to annotate the story with informative asides or to re-enact his discovery of each of these Southern boys, all poor, ambitious and fired up by the combustible confluence of local music, country and rhythm and blues that together gave birth to rock.

The Arts Center production will be on stage June 21-July 30, bringing that legendary night bursting to life. The musical, that’s been called by New York Magazine “a dazzling, raucous spectacle that sounds like a million bucks,” features 20 chart-topping hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

The production’s stage manager Gail Luna said, “The show is like being shot out of a cannon! You’ll know every song, and it just flies by as the actors take you on this 90-minute ride.” The musical is family-friendly, and all ages will revel in this story and soundtrack, sharing the music and the memories.

The New York Times compared Million Dollar Quartet to the beloved Jersey Boys musical and its addictive, captivating quality. The show captures a definitive moment in music history when “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.”

The cost for tickets? $47 for adults, $33 for children (ages 5 and up). Seeing a Million Dollar Quartet? Priceless. 

The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, adjacent to the entrance to Shelter Cove Harbour. For tickets or more information, call the box office at (843) 842-ARTS (2787) or visit online at artshhi.com.

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