A celebration of rock 'n' roll history; REVIEW: Million Dollar Quartet, New Theatre, Cardiff ????....
IN 1956 four huge names in music gathered at Sun Records Studios in Memphis.
An article was written about the impromptu jam session titled Million Dollar Quartet and three decades later recordings of the sessions were unearthed and albums were released under the same title.
Opening on Broadway in 2010 and the West End in 2011, Million Dollar Quartet is a jukebox musical that dramatises this recording session and coming together of legendary musical names.
Carl Perkins was there to record with new performer Jerry Lee Lewis; Elvis Presley stops by along with his girlfriend, a singer named Dyanne and Johnny Cash pops in to talk to recording impresario and owner of Sun Records, Sam Philips.
The quartet themselves are nothing less than brilliant, as well as singing they play their own instruments.
Ashley Carruthers as Jerry Lee Lewis is the best of the foursome, Caruthers started playing piano at the age of five and that shows. Piano playing looks like second nature to him and he deftly bangs out Lewis' sound, but it's also the character of Jerry as the fool, but with a darkness somewhere inside, that makes him stand out. Ross William Wild plays Elvis and Robbie Durham is Johnny Cash and both actors make more than decent approximations of the two singers' talking voices. Wild not only can sing like Elvis but move and gyrate like him too. Durham plays, sings and talks like Cash and apart from not looking much like him, he is perfect in the role. Not being familiar with Carl Perkins, I can only say that he plays and sings just as well as the other three.
Rounding out the cast is Jason Donovan as Sam Phillips, a charismatic narrator; and Katie Ray as Elvis's girlfriend Dyanne.
There's not much plot - apart from a bit of drama where Cash and Perkins have decided to leave the record label - but this story actually happened. There's no complaining about plot when it's really the performances that matter and they are fantastic.
| Chris Williams