BY DISH CONTRIBUTOR SCOTT ARTHUR:
A few weeks before the yuletide holidays in 1956, four wise men made their way through the Memphis snow to pay homage to the Sun (Records). The result was the second greatest Christmas story ever told – the story of the Million Dollar Quartet.
On that cold Tennessee day, record producer Sam Phillips scheduled a recording session with Carl Perkins – who had topped the charts with “Blue Suede Shoes”. Wanting to add a more full sound, Phillips brought in a little known piano player named Jerry Lee Lewis. During the session, Elvis Presley, then the most famous entertainer in the business, stopped by to say hello to the man who gave him his big break. A jam session evolved and was later joined by Johnny Cash who had been summoned by Phillips. An engineer has the presence of mind to record the encounter – and with the help of reporters on the scene who gave the impromptu group their name - the rest is musical history.
More than half a century later the songs and the artists are still popular. Come hear and see why. The Million Dollar Quartet touring company has hit Houston’s Hobby where there’s a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”. From the first moment, the toe - tapping music takes you back to a different time, when music was simple, the lyrics were clean and the listening was FUN. Add to that the incredible cast who sound like the originals as well as look and act like the famed quartet. It’s quickly clear that these are not “impersonators” but highly trained actors and musicians skillfully resurrecting legendary artists. No dubbing or lip syncing here. It’s all LIVE and ALIVE again!
Martin Kaye, who plays Jerry Lee Lewis, was the opening night” hands down” favorite – or should I say “hands on the piano” favorite. His antics rocked and rolled his way into our hearts all evening. Most don’t remember Carl Perkins as a performer – but Lee Ferris’ portrayal was solid and convincing. Christopher Ryan Grant was instantly likeable as Sam Phiilps. Cody Slaughter's Elvis was nostalgic and had all the right moves but his voice seemed forced …. But That’s All Right Mama – because it wasn’t about Elvis. As the King’s girlfriend Dyanne, Kelly Lamont turns the recording studio into a pressure cooker with “Fever”. When Derek Keeling stepped up to the microphone in his black jeans and shirt, the audience took a breath waiting, hoping for the baritone Preacher – and they weren’t disappointed. Johnny Cashed - in on “16 Tons” and “Walk the Line.”
Speaking of lines – the will be one. So hurry. Word will spread and seats will fill quickly. You will be surrounded by unforgettable performances of some of the greatest rock hits of the era. The hour and forty five minute show is just the right length ….but don’t leave at the end – there’s more than you bargained for.
Million Dollar Quartet is at the Hobby Theater through March 4. CLICK HERE for tickets and show times!