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Million Dollar Quartet

Calling all rock 'n' roll aficionados! We're dialing back the clock to December 4, 1956, in Memphis, Tennessee, when Elvis Presley (Cody Ray Slaughter), Johnny Cash (Scott Moreau), Carl Perkins (Lee Ferris), and Jerry Lee Lewis (John Countryman) all showed up at Sun Records for a one-night jam session.

Cody Ray Slaughter as Elvis Presley and Vince Nappo as Sam Phillips
Cody Ray Slaughter as Elvis Presley
and Vince Nappo as Sam Phillips
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Taking poetic license with the facts—the actual event was a recording session for Perkins; Lewis (a year out from his first hit) was a session player; Presley (who had left Sun a year earlier) stopped by to listen in and then joined the band; and Cash, whose presence was either brief or extended (depending on accounts), was probably there as publicity—writers Colin Escott (Sun Records historian) and director Floyd Mutrux have altered the timelines of various milestones to create an engaging tale of four legends, highlight some of their greatest hits, and shed light on the state of the recording industry at that time.

John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis
John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
The casting (Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA) is first-rate. Slaughter's, Moreau's, Ferris', and Countryman's imitative vocal and instrumental chops, and physical ticks, are uncanny, with only a few minor differences from the original icons. The rhythm section, Jay Perkins (Corey Kaiser) on bass and Fluke (Patrick Morrow) on drums do a stand-up job (well, actually, Fluke is seated ;-). Vince Nappo as Sam Phillips is a wonderful blend of silver-tongued snake oil salesman, clever businessman, brilliant judge of musical talent, and savvy manager.

And then there's the knockout dame, Dyanne (Kelly Lamont), who shows up with Elvis, bowls us over with a couple of numbers, and delivers a solid dose of feminine energy that keeps the boys on their best behavior (except for Lewis, of course), while playing a key role in the plot, convincing Sam to cool his jets and roll with the punches.

Kelly Lamont as Dyanne and Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash
Kelly Lamont as Dyanne
and Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
As you can imagine, the evening is filled with great hits performed to perfection, including "Blue Suede Shoes," "Folsom Prison Blues," "That's Alright Mama," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," "I Walk the Line," "Great Balls of Fire," "You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog," "Ring of Fire," and "A Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On."

Other than the inappropriate color guard kicking off the show (What? We're supposed to be patriotic while the Constitution is being shredded before our eyes by our own "elected" officials?), this is great fun.

Denver Center Attractions presentation of Million Dollar Quartet runs through March 9th. There are lottery tickets available for every show. For more information: 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org/buy-tickets.

Bob Bows

 

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