Early stars in the world of Rock and Roll got together on December 4, 1956 and made some amazing music. That was the day that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis met in a recording studio and made music magic. In 2010, the events that took place for those recording sessions were taken and made into a play, “Million Dollar Quartet” that hit the stage for the first time in 2010.
The plot centers around that fateful day in Memphis, Tennessee. The four musicians, who would become legends, met at the Sun Record recording studio.
The plan had been to pair up the newcomer, Jerry Lee Lewis with the more experienced singer and song writer, Carl Perkins. The two had made the plan to record together but things happened that were not expected but were fortuitous, to say the least.
The play,”Million Dollar Quartet” is a dramatization of real events so there are some ways in which it differs from what really happened on that December day. In “Million Dollar Quartet,” Elvis Presley dropped in and brought with him a singer named Dyanne, who was his girlfriend. In reality, the woman Elvis showed up with was a dancer and her name was Marilyn Evans.
Johnny Cash popped in because he wanted to speak with Sam Philips. The four men had not planned to meet at the recording studio. That could be part of the reason the recordings that came as a result and the “Million Dollar Quartet” plat are so special.
When Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis all found themselves in the same place at the same time, a critical mass of musicians was achieved and a jam session broke out.
A little bit of drama is added to the rock n rill musical when Philips makes overtures to Cash to get him to sign a new contract with Sun Records. Johnny Cash had recently signed a contract with Columbia Records. This is the part of the “Million Dollar Quartet” when the story of how Cash was discovered by Philips. There is a dramatic reenactment of that first meeting between the two men.
When “Million Dollar Quartet” first debuted on the stage, the reviews were very positive. “Thereandrsquo;s a lot to like about this relatively scrappy variation on a familiar theme. ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ has a pleasing modesty, taking place as it does on a single afternoon, Dec. 4, 1956, in the rattletrap recording studio of Sun Records in Memphis…The actors portraying these pioneers… donandrsquo;t just play the roles but play the music too. Gifted musicians and likable performers, they tackle with no apparent discomfort the unenviable chore of impersonating some of the most revered names in pop music, from their slick pompadours right down to their frisky, agile fingertips,” wrote the reviewer at the “New York Times.”
The reviewer at “Backstage” wrote, “When the curtain call is the most exciting part of a show, it’s definitely a problem. Such is the case with “Million Dollar Quartet,” the latest attempt to turn pop nostalgia into Broadway box-office gold.”
A reviewer at “New York Magazine” liked the performance and wrote, “The actorsandmdash;all four of them crackerjack singers and musiciansandmdash;distill the essence of their real-life counterparts without succumbing to excessive caricature.”
In addition to garnering support from theatre reviewers in New York, audiences found the play to be a lot of fun as well. They called the play “fun and upbeat.”
Music has a way of doing something for people that few other things can. It can bring back memories and evoke a sense of time travel almost. When we hear certain songs, we are not just reminded of another time in our lives but we are often transported, at least for the duration of the song, to that part of our lives.
For many of us, music plays a large role in our lives. There are certain songs that become synonymous with various points of our life and the events that happened during them. A first kiss, graduating high school, going off to college. Similarly, the four musicians portrayed here were there during the early years of Rock and Roll. This play lets us go back to that time.