Riverside Theatre, led by Producing Artistic Director/CEO Allen D. Cornell and Managing Director/COO Jon R. Moses, continues its 44th season celebrating an electrifying night of early rock ‘n roll with Million Dollar Quartet. Presenting sponsors for Million Dollar Quartet are John and Marilyn McConnell with additional support from Riverside Theatre’s Patron Producers’ Group. Million Dollar Quartet plays the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre from January 2-21, 2018.
On December 4, 1956, Carl Perkins, famous for the song “Blue Suede Shoes,” was recording at Sun Records in Memphis. His pianist was the then unknown but already brilliant Jerry Lee Lewis, who had just started working at Sun. Before the two artists had finished their recording, Elvis Presley dropped by to see his friend Sam Phillips, who ran Sun Records. He was accompanied by a Las Vegas dancer who was visiting him.
Elvis had worked at Sun until 1955, when Mr. Phillips sold Elvis’ contract to RCA for $35,000. Elvis thought Perkins and Lewis sounded great, so he joined them for an impromptu jam session. Then Johnny Cash arrived. He dropped by the studio to talk about his recording contract with Mr. Phillips and joined in as well. The four artists were having a great time singing gospel and traditional songs and recent popular hits familiar to all of them. Sam Phillips recognizing the publicity value of the session, called the Memphis Press-Scimitar to have them write and photograph the event. A resulting article appeared the following day under the headline “Million Dollar Quartet.”
The sound engineer working that day was so impressed by the great music of this unique quartet that he set up mics and started recording. The recordings were electrifying, but couldn’t be sold since Elvis was now under contract to RCA. When Sun Records was sold in 1969, the tapes were licensed and catalogued in Europe and in 1981, 17 of the 47 tracks were released there. A few years later, more tracks were found and released under the title, The Complete Million Dollar Quartet Session. In 1990, the recordings were released in the United States as Elvis Presley – The Million Dollar Quartet.
In 2001, Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott started working on a musical production chronicling that remarkable evening. Escott, author of Good Rockin’ Tonight: Sun Records and The Birth of Rock & Roll, had written a biography on Hank Williams and was engrossed by that musical genre. Mutrux, on the other hand, spent most of his career in Hollywood as a writer, director, producer and screenwriter.
Together they created Million Dollar Quartet, which had its world premiere at Seaside Music Theatre in Daytona Beach in November 2006. It subsequently played theatres in Washington State and Chicago before opening on Broadway in April 2010 where it played for the next 14 months. A West End production in London opened in February 2011 and ran for almost a year.
The Broadway production was nominated for three Tony Awards® including Best Musical. Levi Kreis won the Tony Award® for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis.
Riverside Theatre’s production of Million Dollar Quartet is Directed and Choreographed by Keith Andrews and stars James Barry (Carl Perkins), Sam Cieri (Elvis Presley), Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash), Nat Zegree (Jerry Lee Lewis), Jason Loughlin (Sam Phillips), Sarah Ellis (Dyanne), David Sonneborn (Fluke), and Sam Webber (Brother Jay). For this production Noel Carey will be understudying for the role of Jerry Lee Lewis and Sam Sherwood will be understudying for the roles of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.
The production crew includes: Mr. Barry (Musical Director), Derek McLane (Scenic Design), Adam Koch (Additional Scenic Elements), Molly Walz (Costume Design), Anna Hillbery (Costume Coordinator), Yael Lubetzky (Lighting Design), Craig Beyrooti (Sound Design), and Mark Johnson (Production Stage Manager). Casting was done by Wojcik / Seay Casting.
Million Dollar Quartet performs January 2-21, 2018 on the Stark Stage at Riverside Theatre. Tickets start at $35. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at http://www.riversidetheatre.com.
Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30pm; Opening Night, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm; with matinees on Wednesdays, select Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.
January 2, 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 20 @ 8pm
January 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 20 & 21 @ 2pm
January 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18 @ 7:30pm