“Million Dollar Quartet”: Reliving the past


There’s something to be said about reliving your past, even if it was before your time.  I would say “Million Dollar Quartet” brought me back to a period of time in which rock ‘n’ roll was defiant, thriving, and spirited! Society tends to draw towards the mediocre hip-hop/rap songs that are full of mixed messages, discrimination, sexism and disrespect.  Seeing a show that lit up the room with vibrant songs that made you move and groove in your seat, is a show worth seeing.  Even if those hits aren’t from your generation, the songs are enjoyed and remembered by all ages.

“Quartet” brings the audience back to flashy, rebellious rock ‘n’ roll songs but also provides an historic event that I never knew about.  Embedded on the screen before the jukebox musical was a short blurb about this infamous night at the Sun Records Studio.  In all, it said that Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash gathered on one night in December to play and celebrate their good times together.  Seems like a happy and jolly get-together right?  Circumstances didn’t come out the way that Sam Phillips (the Sun Records studio owner) would have wanted.  Yet, stars were born and history was made due to Sam Phillips contribution and output of such great music. 

Dialogue was often a problem because the music overpowered the weak dialogue.  It might as well of been a concert starring the four musicians but to add a little drama into the mix, dialogue became an important part of the show.  With Elvis Presley strutting into the studio with his thick southern accent, the audience could practically guess the words coming out of his mouth.  But other characters like Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, were surprising and exciting to watch.  The development of all the characters over the jam session was a complete cycle of them being egotistical to them being appreciative of the opportunities Sam Phillips provided to them.  The acting wasn’t half bad either. I expected a bunch of look-a-like’s that mimicked playing their instruments.  Instead I got six amazing musicians(including the bass and the drums) that not only knew how to play, but how to embody their character within the instrument.  For Cash, it was the acoustic guitar, the low voice and the mannerisms that just classifies Johnny Cash as one of a kind.  Jerry Lee Lewis was phenomenal at the piano.  I loved to watch him at his instrument strutting away when the other characters were talking.  His innocent yet rebellious side defined his piano playing but he was often ridiculed by Cash, Presley and Perkins for his immature behavior.  His embodiment of the arm-throwing, leg-twisting and music-loving personality made it so that he was the real deal. 

“Million Dollar Quarter” reminded me of my dad when I was watching it and I was thinking how much he would have enjoyed watching the past come back to life.  I think the older generation truly appreciated this time-travel back to the late 1950’s as well as I.  As Rohan Preston from the Star Tribune put it, “‘Quartet’ cast makes show worth a million bucks.”