Sam Philips knew December 4, 1956 was worth commemorating. He grabbed his camera and captured the moment when his million dollar quartet (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis) jammed together for the first and only time at his legendary Sun Studios. It’s the day the musical Million Dollar Quartet celebrates, which opened at the Fox Theatre last night.
Beyond the music that keeps you tapping your toes and clapping your hands, MDQ is a story of change and survival. Perkins (played by Gabe Bowling) struggles to find his next hit after his biggest hit, after losing his imprint on Blue Suede Shoes after Elvis sung it on the Sullivan Show while Jerry Lee (Colte Julian), the in your face newbie to Sun Records, pushes to get his own record cut. Cash (played by Scott Moreau, who captures the essence of the man in black) is conflicted having to confront Phillips (Bryan Langlitz) with his departure from Sun to Columbia records. And Elvis (Jacob Rowley), the talent Phillips was forced to sell the year earlier, visits Sun with the hope that Phillips will consider an offer to work at RCA.
What makes the MDQ’s story and musical numbers a night to remember is its book written Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux and the show’s direction by Eric Schaeffer. It’s a combination that allows the actors to recreate convincing portrayals of the Sun Studio head and his most famous million dollar boys.
“ Every night is a real good time because it’s such a good story. It gives you insight on how much impact they had on just not on music but the world,” said the show’s Elvis, Jacob Rowley, an Elvis Tribute Artist who at 19 won a place his place with the MDQ ensemble last fall. “Its really something else when you get the honor to play somebody that’s accomplished so much. I think I can say say that really goes for all five of us.”
Rowley admitted on some nights he can feel the presence of Elvis and the others on stage. “The energy is there and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my young life. I can feel those guys in the building.
Elvis, Cash, Perkins and Jerry Lee will remain in the building at the Fox through Sunday March 1. Tickets for Million Dollar Quartet at the Fabulous Fox are on sale now online at MetroTix.com, by calling 314-534-1111 or in person at the Fox Box Office.
Show Background: The longest-running musical production in Chicago’s history, Million Dollar Quartet opened in 2008 and continues to perform to packed houses at the Apollo Theatre. In 2011, the West End production played at the Noël Coward Theatre in London, and a Las Vegas production began performances at Harrah’s Showroom in Las Vegas in February 2013. MIllion Dollar Quartet won a Tony Award® for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical and received Tony Award® nominations for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical (Colin Escott & Floyd Mutrux). The show received an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Musical Revue and three Drama League nominations including Distinguished Production of a Musical and Distinguished Performance.