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"Million Dollar Quartet" Rocks 'n Rolls at the Nederlander Theatre

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Nederlander Theatre
Under the Direction of
James M. Nederlander and James L. Nederlander
Million Dollar Quartet
(Million Dollar Quartet Website)
Book by Colin Escott & Floyd Mutrix
Original Concept and Direction by Floyd Mutrix

At the
Nederlander Theatre
208 West 41st Street
New York, NY

Directed by Eric Schaeffer
Musical Arrangements and Supervision: Chuck Mead

Robert Britton Lyons as Carl Perkins
Lance Guest as Johnny Cash
Levi Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis
Eddie Clendening as Elvis Presley
Hunter Foster as Sam Phillips
Elizabeth Stanley as Dyanne

With: Cory Kaiser on Bass,
Larry Lelli on Drums

Scenic Design: Derek McLane
Costume Design: Jane Greenwood
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley
Sound Design: Kai Harada
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Assoc. Music Supervisor: August Eriksmoen
Casting: Telsey + Company
Marketing Director: Carol Chiavetta
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Marketing: Allied Live LLC
Production Stage Manager: Robert Witherow
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
General Management: Alan Wasser-Allan Williams

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 9, 2010

(Read about the Actual Million Dollar Quartet)
(See Million Dollar Quartet at Chicago’s Apollo Theater)

Full disclosure, I own some original 45’s, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even a couple of Sun Recordings. I love the music I heard tonight, and I could listen to it again and again. Never mind that these four actors/musicians/singers/dancers, who personify the charismatic Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, are not exact clones of their iconic characters, they are more than close, and they brought the house down, again and again, with the crowd going wild. Songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” (the opener), “That’s All Right”, “Sixteen Tons”, “Hound Dog”, “See You Later Alligator”, and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, were sung with vibrant vocals, athletic fervor, sexy personalities, and gyrating hips and legs. In fact, it’s rare to see four stars on Broadway with such versatile and outsized talent. Levi Kreis even played the piano backwards, and the finale had all four leaping about like they were on fire.

On December 4, 1956, at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records Studio in Memphis, four young, newly renowned artists were ingeniously brought together by Sam for a one-time recording session, and their lives were never the same. Nor was Sam’s, as he had sold Elvis’ contract to RCA, and Johnny was on his way out too. Sam was an inventive Producer, but other studios were outspending him on contracts, so he had to think on his feet, which is where he was tonight, with ongoing monologues for historical perspective. The South was breeding talent, and Memphis is where they came together. Hunter Foster, as Sam Phillips, has an ingénue’s face and a sportsman’s mind. His studio was a velvet trap, where artists could be expressive, but were driven elsewhere for wealth. The fifth character in this show is Elvis’ gal, Dyanne (Elizabeth Stanley), who sings with sumptuous sensuality. Her renditions of “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking” were among the best I’ve ever heard.

Robert Britton Lyons, as Carl Perkins, relating to the onstage bass player as his brother, sings upbeat guitar melodies, like “My Babe” and “See You Later Alligator”, with tone-perfect rhythms. Lance Guest, as Johnny Cash, sings bluesy bass solos, like “I Walk the Line”, and he morphs into his role in a mix of confidence and vulnerability. His angst about telling Sam he’s leaving Sun is persuasive and affecting. Eddie Clendening, as Elvis, literally conjured up Presley’s essence, with pulsating pelvis, spine-tingling tonalities, rolling eyes, and puckered lips. “Memories Are Made of This” and “Hound Dog” were cultural flashbacks from a half century ago. But, Levi Kreis, as Jerry Lee Lewis, was the most astounding, turning Sam’s piano into a melodic volcano of trills and chords. It’s a wonder the keys stayed put. He was at the piano, on top of the piano, and everywhere else, a human tornado of whirlwind songs. In fact, as an encore, the band jumped into snazzy, sequined suits and propelled themselves about in “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”. This is one of Broadway’s finest shows!

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at