There are just those moments when you know life will never be the same. These are the moments where you feel the world has just changed irrevocably. Sometimes, those moments are glorious. Other times, they’re filled with sadness. But sometimes, one doesn’t even know such a moment has occurred. One might not even know that anything of note HAS occurred. For the majority of fine folks in the United States, Canada and even abroad, they likely had no idea December 4th, 1956 would be one of those special days that would fill calendars to come with timeless harmony and boundless energy. Probably even after the fact, but thanks to the benefit of hindsight, we can safely look back on that day in a legendary Memphis, Tennessee recording studio and know that history had indeed been made. Iconic producer Sam Phillips brought together four names that continue to live on some sixty years later, and will continue to for generations to come, as cornerstones of the 20thcentury popular music revolution.
Of course, those names would be Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. They found themselves in the same place at the same time on that fateful December day, and they did what they did best – play incredible music. They played it together, Phillips recorded the symphonic results, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Segal Centre Artistic and Executive Director Lisa Rubin brings that day back to life for enthusiastic audiences, music lovers AND devoted theatergoers, at the Centre in Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott’s inescapably catchy and captivating production of Million Dollar Quartet.
Four names in music that cannot and will never be forgotten, are brought to life with slick versatility and unmistakable heart by George Krissa (Presley), Christo Graham (Lewis), Edward Murphy (Perkins), and Sky Seals (Cash), respectively. There IS a whole lotta shakin’ going on, as well as head bopping, toe tapping, and shoulder shimmying from entranced audiences as they get a glimpse into an impromptu jam session that helped map out the blueprint for a cultural quake that would promise to break the Richter scale in the years following 1956.
The production features twenty-one (21) musical numbers expertly helmed by Musical Director David Terriault and one cannot evade the magic and melodies that fill the air. It is more than fortuitous that Phillips had the wherewithal (not to mention forethought) to record the session, and Phillips is here brought to life with bombastic pomposity by the dramatic skills and talents of James Loye.
Premiering in 2007 in Florida and Washington State, and then making its debut on Broadway in 2011, the Segal Centre is a fitting stop on a rock n’ roll tour through history that just does not let up in terms of energy, passion, fun, and – oh yes – tunes that will keep you singing along and probably joining a chorus of mesmerized music lovers in the lobby after the performance.
You will not only witness gripping dramatic moments and the chaining together of the reconstructed events of that day, but you will hear treats for the ear in various musical genres along the lines of gospel, country music, popular radio tunes of the day, and of course, an unavoidable contracting of an incurable case of the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu.
Director Rubin keeps the pace effortlessly flowing, the set, costumes and lighting overseen by Brian Dudkiewicz, Louise Bourret, and Itai Erdal, respectively, keep the visuals delicious and nuanced, and the powerhouse actors make you feel like you were there (and honestly speaking, who wouldn’t have wanted to be?).
This is easily a can’t-miss at the Segal from April 23rd to May 14th. Visit segalcentre.org for more information or call the box office at (514) 739-7944 .