On Tuesday, December 4th, 1956 the stars aligned to place the unknown Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash in the studio of Sun Records, label of Sam Phillips, the man who is responsible for Rock & Roll Music. Phillips had discovered each of these men, and pulled from them the talent within, talent that only he could pull from them.
This was a time that blacks and whites not only had separate water fountains, they had seperate music. Phillips saw the hunger of the white youth for the black music, but they could not listen to the black artists. It was not acceptable. Phillips knew getting white kids to duplicate the sounds of the black music was a recipe for success and his first artist to use this formula to succeed was none other than Elvis Presley.
Presley's success and subseqent selling of his contract to RCA allowed Phillips and Sun Records to continue and thus, to the discovery of artist such as Perkins, Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. It was on that afternoon in 1956, the four together for the only time ever would unknowingly make history.
The four played, sang and “jammed” from the afternoon into the evening, and thanks to the quick thinking of the sound engineer, the entire afternoon was recorded, Phillips, always the promoter, called the local paper and the next day the story of the session ran under the title “Million Dollar Quartet”.
The Broadway retelling of that afternoon opened at Dallas Summer Musicals this week and not only is it a great history lesson about that day, but I think as importantly, about Sam Phillips, the man that changed the music industry forever.
The cast of Million Dollar Quartet is a multi talented group of men who not only bring to life these legendary men, they do it brilliantly. Each man becomes the artist they portray completely, no detail is overlooked, each actor, playing all the instruments required to fill the Music Hall with rich amazing sound.
Christopher Ryan Grant as Sam Phillips
What this play offers that no other can is the chance to be a part of history. The portrayal of these men is so authentic, I felt as though I was there. Christopher Ryan Grant as Jerry Lee Lewis plays the piano with a style and energy that Lewis himself must envy. Derek Keeling as Johnny Cash has the depth always evidenced by Cash in interviews. Cody Slaughter as Elvis brings to life the insecurity we knew he harbored, but couldn't believe was real. At the same time he displays the sensuality and raw sex appeal of the young Elvis that made All America swoon with desire. Lee Ferris as Carl Perkins brings this icon perfectly to life in front of our eyes. This show is a great history lesson and a great time.
Million Dollar Quartet
Million Dollar Quartet plays the Music Hall at Fair Park through Sunday, March 18th. Tickets are $15-$85.00 and available at http://dallassummermusicals.org/ DSM presents an incredible season including LaCage with George Hamilton, Memphis, Mama Mia and The Adams Family.
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