Million Dollar Quartet is a wild musical event

| September 22, 2017 | Comments (0)

MDQ-prod-photo 4412_web_credit Liz LaurenAs we moved into our seats at Million Dollar Quartet, I overheard the man sitting next to us say, “What’s the story with this show?” I said, “It’s a rowdy, fun concert with a story about rock and roll’s history. Mostly, though, it’s a concert.”

We learned about Million Dollar Quartet when it first opened at the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Theater. We attended a main stage Albert Theater production of a different show. When we entered the lobby after the show, the Owen Theater crowd came out laughing and singing. They were so excited about this new show recounting a magical night in rock and roll history. We stopped to buy tickets before we left the Goodman Theatre. Million Dollar Quartet, even in its infancy, lived up to the hype. The show was terrific.

Many years later we received an invitation to the Paramount Theater for the Million Dollar Quartet’s opening night performance. The over-the-top show ages well, with the Paramount Theater’s production providing a big stage for big personalities.

Kevin Depinet created a set that truly takes you into Sun Studios. We toured Sun Studios a few years ago during a Spring Break Memphis trip. When we saw the set, we were transported back to our Sun Studios tour. Even the set’s “exterior” remains true to its Memphis roots.

Four future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musicians met at Sun Studios for one magical night. The story takes the audience through a rock and roll concert with songs that everyone knows. As each musician highlights his story and songs, the audience sings, claps, dances and laughs.

What makes this show special are the individual performances of actors whose tremendous musical talents add depth to the story. Adam Wesley Brown (Carl Perkins), Kavan Hashemian (Elvis Presley), Bill Scott Sheets (Johnny Cash) and Gavin Rohrer (Jerry Lee Lewis) embody their characters in a way that makes them multi-faceted people rather than caricatures. It would be easy to focus just on their music, but this is a story about the people who created the music. The story gives enough insight into each musician’s personal life and thoughts that you see beyond the hit songs.

Nicholas Harazin (Sam Phillips) narrates the events as an admirer and an observer. Just as each musician is struggling with his future plans, Sam also has big decisions to make, which will affect not only Sun Studios, but each member of the Million Dollar Quartet. His performance transports you back to the 1950’s.

We know how each story ends, yet we’re drawn into each individual’s on-stage angst. Perkins, Presley and Cash have no idea that history will view them as among the best at their craft. Like most young professionals, they have the same hopes, dreams and worries as other people their age. They haven’t grown into their musical talents yet, so they lack confidence. You want to tell them that it will all work out, but you also know they wouldn’t believe you.

There’s no doubt that Gavin Rohrer has the most fun on stage. His Jerry Lee Lewis is just as wild and colorful as you’d expect. He captivates the audience with his quips (“I’ve had two wives and I’m not twenty-one” made the audience roar.) and his refusal to be intimidated by the budding superstars. In each Million Dollar Quartet show we’ve seen, it’s the Jerry Lee Lewis performance that makes or breaks the show. Without his over-the-top exuberance and exceptional showmanship, Million Dollar Quartet would not shine. In this care, it shines magnificently.

Million Dollar Quartet is truly the perfect family show. The story is compelling. The music soars off the stage. The wonderful performances bring each musician back to his start. From the beginning until the end, every family member will find something to enjoy. Whatever you do, stay in your seat until the house lights go on. Some of the best performances take place during the encore.

Million Dollar Quartet performances continue through October 29: Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Thursday at 7 p.m.; Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Single tickets are $36 to $64. Million Dollar Quartet is rated PG, which surprised me. The show is really very innocent and clean. I would have no problems bringing younger kids.
The Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora, is surrounded by affordable parking and a variety of restaurants for pre- or post-show dining. For subscriptions and single tickets, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666.
Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times The Fun. Image courtesy of Liz Lauren for the Paramount Theatre.
Disclosure:  I did receive media passes to attend the performance. My words and my opinions are my own.

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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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