Review: Million Dollar Quartet - Rock ’n’ roll musical is still theatrical gold

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IT IS almost a year to the week that Million Dollar Quartet first played the Capital and while its new touring home may dwarf David Farley’s compact set, the rock ’n’ roll performed live by the cast more than fills the auditorium, showcasing the magnificent musicianship on stage.

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THE PLAYHOUSE, Greenside Place

Million Dollar Quartet relives one of the greatest nights in the history of popular music, the fourth of December 1956.

Million Dollar Quartet

Million Dollar Quartet

That was the night The King, the King of Rockabilly, the King of Country, and the King of the Keyboards came together for one night only, thanks to the Father of Rock ’n’ Roll, producer Sam Phillips.

At Phillips’ Sun Records studio, the four youngsters meet and jam together.

In time they will go on to shape the music industry, their influence remaining to this day. Step forward Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Phillips, played with easy charm by Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp, narrates the tale, which is interspersed with the hits of the day.

From the opening rendition of Blue Suede Shoes, sung by Carl Perkins, played with strident determination by Matthew Wycliffe, the cast are on fire. And what a cast, if Rhys Whitfield’s Elvis is underplayed in parts, what he lacks in stage presence is more than made up for each time he steps up to the mic to channel The King - Elvis is in the building.

As on the previous visit, Martin Kaye’s fire-cracker Jerry Lee Lewis steals the show. His rendition of Great Balls of Fire is a highlight, as is ‘growling’ Robbie Durham’s blistering take on Johnny Cash’s Ghost Riders In The Sky.

Bringing a welcome touch of femininity to proceedings at this performance, understudy Jennifer Caldwell as Dyanne, Elvis’ girlfriend, proves every bit a match for the boys.

Her smokey rendition of Fever and equally rockin’ I Hear You Knockin’ marks her out as one to watch.

Million Dollar Quartet captures the humanity of four young men who would go on to become legends. A fitting tribute, and one that’s sure to have you up dancing.

Run ends tomorrow