There was a whole lotta shakin' goin' on at 601 Main as the Arkansas Repertory Theatre mainstage season returned from its summer hiatus with "Million Dollar Quartet," a foot-stomping romp back to the early days of rock 'n' roll.
On Dec. 4, 1956, at Sun Records in Memphis, four music legends — Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins — all crossed paths in the studio for the first and only time. That's the true setting for this Tony award-winning musical, which all takes place on that historical night.
Karack Osborn, who plays Sun Records' owner and producer Sam Phillips, serves as the story's narrator, playing along with the audience and literally setting the stage for the unorthodox show to come.
Trent Rowland (Presley), Bill Scott Sheets (Cash), Brandyn Day (Lewis) and Skye Scott (Perkins) play the icons in question, pompadours firmly in place. And while the production is technically billed as a "jukebox musical," it's much more like an out-and-out concert woven into a dramatic play.
Each member of the famous quartet not only sings but plays all the show's music — meaning Day's heart-pumping piano solos and Scott's soulful guitar riffs earn every bit of applause they receive.
Alyssa Gardner as Elvis' of-the-moment love interest Dyanne, Brian Wolverton on upright bass and David W. Lincoln on drums round out the uber-talented cast that rocks out to hits like "Blue Suede Shoes," "Great Balls of Fire," "Walk the Line" and "Who Do You Love." But among the crash of cymbals and keys, one standout moment was when the quartet belted out an a cappella version of the hymn "Down By the Riverside," after which you could hear a pin drop in the theater before the audience erupted in cheers.
The Rep has assembled a knockout team of actor-musicians for this show. Whether you're a longtime fan of the music or a novice to the whole scene, The Rep's "Million Dollar Quartet" will have you dancing in your seat as it spreads the gospel of rock 'n' roll to the ends of the earth — or at least to the exit doors.
"Million Dollar Quartet" runs through Oct. 6. For showtimes and more information, or to purchase tickets online, visit The Rep’s website. You can also call (501) 378-0405 or visit the theater's box office downtown at 601 Main St.
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