I have to confess; the songs of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins have never featured on any Spotify playlist of mine. All that could be about to change, though, after seeing them brought vividly to life in Million Dollar Quartet.
Playing at The Southbank Centre and embarking on a 2017 tour, the production directed by Ian Talbot features many of the four singers greatest hits. Set around the evening that the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ came together, for the one and only time, at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio.
This is very much a jukebox musical; the hits are churned out one after the other with a thin strand of a story running through the middle. Million Dollar Quartet doesn’t pretend it’s telling the most profound tale, the audience doesn’t seem to mind and is perfectly content reliving hit after hit.
Million Dollar Quartet has assembled a strong cast who embody the legendary figures. Matt Wycliffe is excellent as ‘Carl Perkins’, feeling bitter that his biggest hit is no longer attributed to him. Robbie Durham shines as Johnny Cash, with a rich, deep, chocolate-like vocal.
If Ross William Wild isn’t, in some way, descended from Elvis Presley, then reincarnation must exist, he captures every nuance of the King of Rock and Roll. Stealing the show is Martin Kaye, as Jerry Lee Lewis, practically exploding off the stage in a fireball of energy.
Martin Kemp brings the story together as Sam Phillips, and Katie Ray plays ‘Dyanne’, a girlfriend of Elvis Presley who belts out two superb numbers.
Special mention should also go to Ben Cullingworth on Drums and James Swinnerton on bass. The rest of the instruments are played live by the lead cast, including some very impressive piano playing from Martin Kaye.
It’s the first time in a long while I’ve seen an audience literally dancing in the aisles during a finale, suitably encouraged by the cast. Practically bouncing out of the auditorium, I found myself wondering which of the hits I’d be adding to my newly created Million Dollar Quartet Spotify playlist first.