For most fans of Rock music there sits a magical date, December 4, 1956. That is the night an epic jam session took place in Memphis, Tennessee featuring the people who made Rock and Roll. And if I could role back the time machine, I am pretty sure it sounded much like it does in the show the Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah’s Las Vegas.
Having reviewed or endured hundreds of tribute shows to the King and other rock legends, I can honestly say I was not keyed up for this show. But it featured a few people with impressive resumes including stints with the tribute show of all tribute show, Legends. So I was ready for almost anything. Except this. Talent, charisma and true harmony that matched the people they were portraying.
This show captures the talents, the egos as well as the humility of the people in that special moment in time, in that little recording studio as it must have been that night. Did I mention They Rock??
The show does well to keep to the point of the story. It also does well to flash back to when each man met Sam Philips, the one person who is credited with creating what we now call Rock n Roll. Giving us a quick look at how they each had an untapped talent Sam saw and later made them famous.
Carl Perkins, the father of hillbilly rock. Johnny Cash, the man in black. The new kid, the scruffy yet determined Jerry Lee Lewis and of course, the man who made Sam Phillips and Sun Records a household name, Elvis Presley. Each were at a special moment in their careers. Each found themselves in that tiny studio that one night for a different reason and it would be the only time all four would ever play together.
The Talent Rocks
One of the great things about this show is that it is not a Cirq show. It also has talent. These guys belt it out like it was a chance of a lifetime performance. I must also mention the female performer who was hanging with these big boys. Felice Garcia was a talent in her own right. You will be hoping for more as they deliver more…
The Million Dollar Quartet features over 20 songs, so it’s not a quick flash of music sampling… Elvis belts out “Hound Dog” in both the original blues version and the one we all know today. “That’s All Right,” is sung along with “Blue Suede Shoes” with the rest of the quartet. Johnny Cash does his customary introduction before dropping into “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line”. Carl Perkins is the under rated talent in Rock history as he is in the production as he sings “See You Later, Alligator”. Finally, we have Jerry Lee Lewis who really got the crowd up and on their feet with incredible keyboard antics of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, his hit “Great Balls of Fire”, and bringing down the house with “Real Wild Child” as he plays it the only way he knows how on the piano backwards.
We were front row, so could see some of the flaws in the set production, but once they start jamming, you will forget them… Million Dollar Quartet is a celebration of music and really one hell of a good time! Go See It!
I also have to give kudos to the rest of the talent behind the scene. Really. When you go, take a look at the program. Look at the cast as well as the production people. Talent in all departments. A virtual “who’s who” of rock and musical production prodigy.