Million Dollar Quartet – Royal Festival Hall until 2nd January then Touring from February
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
In 1956 four young men on the brink of stardom had an impromptu jam session at the now legendary Sun Studios under the watchful eye of Sam Phillips, the man who created Rock’n’Roll. Inspired by the true story of the famed recording session where Sam Phillips, brought together icons Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, Million Dollar Quartet includes more than 20 legendary rock ‘n’ roll hits, including Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, I Walk The Line and Great Balls of Fire. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits which bring you inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ‘n’ roll band for one unforgettable night.
A realistic set recreating the recording studio, complete with gold discs on the wall and a plethora of musical instruments was well used. The exits off to the side then appearing at the front of the stage depicting the outside of the studio coupled with the lighting made the difference between inside and out very effectively.
The performances were all outstanding. Martin Kemp as Sam Phillips the “father” of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the glue that held the show together, providing narration and history throughout. Known as the entrepreneur who started Sun Records and for discovering some of the genres superstars. I loved one of the last lines which made reference to signing a funny looking kid ‘Roy Orbison’. As always an impressive charismatic performance delivered by a true professional. Katie Ray as Dyanne, Elvis Presley’s latest girlfriend was a powerhouse of sound. Her stunning voice raised the roof with her song “Fever”, and gave a thoroughly sizzling performance.
A very convincing Elvis Presley portrayed by Ross William Wild, who had the look, movement and sound just right as well as showing the incredibly vulnerable side of the man who the world adored. Shooting to fame quickly and not losing sight of who discovered him, which gave an endearing charm to his performance. Matthew Wycliffe as Carl Perkins clearly had an axe to grind with Elvis, we later discover why, this moment explains his sultry hostile approach to Elvis and the fact the audience empathise with him is credit to Wycliffe. His singing was impressive and the way he interacted with the other men was brilliant. It was a joy to watch Wycliffe, a multi talented musician, who played his guitar and harmonica fabulously with a few notable tricks as well.
Young Johnny Cash played by Robbie Durham gave a laid back, calm and wise performance showing a man who was perhaps old before his time. His beautiful bass voice delighted, particularly during his hit song “Walk the Line”. For me this number was one of the highlights of the show.
Set to steal the show was always going to be Martin Kaye as Jerry Lee Lewis. His comic timing, frenzied piano playing as well as Lewis’s signature crazy movements, offset the more serious moments to perfection and “Great Balls of Fire” had the audience on their feet. You can really see that Kaye was born to play this role, which he has done successfully for a number of years and we are truly fortunate to have him with us.
These four men are all very accomplished quadruple threat performers. They not only sang, acted and moved to perfection but also played their respective instruments to an impossibly high standards. Like the characters they play they are, all four, ones to look out for as headlining acts. The moment when they created the original picture of the session gave me a tingle, so believable were their performances.
This show was sublimely “Rock’n’Roll” and had the entire theatre on their feet dancing and singing along by the end. A nice addition was the added Christmas number at the end. It really got us all in the festive spirit. The finale raised the roof off the Festival Hall and I’d say if you can’t get to see it there then do grab a ticket when it resumes its tour in February.