I am here to pose a challenge:
If anybody goes to see Million Dollar Quartet at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, and ISN’T totally delighted, entertained and impressed, I’ll eat my blue suede shoes.
This production is solid and breathtaking from top to bottom, from the premise of the show, to the fast-paced directing by Jeff Stockberger, to the electrifying performances of the actor/musicians on the stage.
The Tony Award Winning musical is set on December 4, 1956, when fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together for an impromptu jam session at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. (As a lifelong Elvis fan, I am mesmerized by the thought of being a fly on the wall on an evening like that, and that’s exactly how it feels to watch this show!)
The “quartet” actors have all played these iconic roles before in other productions, and they are formidable with their voices and instruments. Justin Figueroa plays Johnny Cash; Brian Michael Henry plays Jerry Lee Lewis; Christopher Wren plays Carl Perkins, and Edward La Cardo plays Elvis Presley. These gentlemen lit the place on FIRE with songs including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Walk the Line,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Hound Dog.”
Beef & Boards dynamic artistic director Eddie Curry provided a strong and nuanced portrayal of Sam Phillips, the Sun Records owner. He had the challenge of carrying the plot line that gave the show its drama and cohesiveness. I love how the script infuses mini rock-history lessons into the dialogue, ensuring that the story doesn’t get lost in this incredible revue of songs!
My dear friend Jill Kelly Howe was radiant and sultry as Dyanne, Elvis’ girlfriend and the only female vocalist on stage. She not only has a voice that knocks you over with its power and beauty, Jill has so much charisma on stage that you might just forget about the four other “stars” of the show for a few minutes! She’ll give you “Fever!” Please don’t say I didn’t warn you…
A word of advice to those of you who attend: be prepared for a wild ride during the last five minutes of the show. Just when you think it’s over―you’ll be treated to a finale that is worth the price of admission! That’s when you’ll see the other two cast members, bass player Dave Perry as Brother Jay and with Nathan Shew as Fluke, finally take their moments in the spotlight, with a stunt that still has me shaking my head.
For us, this was a great date night, but I found myself wanting to come back and bring the kids so they could learn a little something about the evolution of rock and roll…food for thought. This show is selling out fast, so if I were you I’d reserve tickets fast – it’s a “million dollars” worth of entertainment, right here in the heart of Indiana!
Million Dollar Quartet Lights the Stage on Fire at Beef and Boards is on stage through August 26. For reservations, call the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre box office at 317.872.9664. For complete show schedule, visit beefandboards.com.