Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins were not known to do a lot of hanging out together, or collaborating, as it later came to be known. But even if it was only part of one day (Dec. 4, 1956), it was immortalized in a famous photograph in the 1950s.
The photo, atop a Memphis newspaper story with the headline "Million Dollar Quartet," eventually led to a recording and years later turned into the idea for a play of that name, (book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux), which has found its way to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, where it opened Friday night.
The show, as directed by Hunter Foster, is great fun, just as the rock 'n' roll music famously was, with major help from Sam Phillips at Sun Records, who was skillfully portrayed by Karack Osborn. His character, Phillips, helped launch the careers of all four of the Million Dollar Quartet guys.
Don't go expecting actors who look all that much like their characters, just know that you will be getting actors who are well able to inhabit the roles they have, and can sound and move like their characters. Trent Rowland, as Presley, has the moves; Bill Scott Sheets as Cash has that deep voice, Skye Scott Perkins has the guitar prowess and Brandyn Day as Jerry Lee Lewis practically steals the show with his moves and his comedic skills, as well as his keyboard pounding and climbing.
Osborn does well as a sort of narrator who moves the plot along, explaining how each of them came to his attention as he attempts to navigate their rising fame.
All of them do a fine job of playing the music that accompanies their singing, and they are aided by Brian Wolverton as Jay Perkins on bass and David W. Lincoln as W.S. "Fluke" Holland on drums. The cast also includes Alyssa Gardner as Dyann, an aspiring vocalist brought to the get-together by Presley.
The set, designed by Adam Koch, was nicely done, combining ample space for performing with Phillips' office elevated above the stage. The crowning touch was one of those silver Christmas trees, accompanied by one of those revolving color wheels that are recalled annually by this paper's legendary columnist, John Brummett.
Curtain time for the run: 7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 6 at the Rep, 601 Main St. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 378-0405 or online at TheRep.org.
Metro on 09/07/2019