|MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
About Million Dollar Quartet
Jersey Boys made it look so easy. Assemble a quartet of talented actor-singers, excavate some tunes from the classic rock songbook, throw in absorbing historical back story and voila! A blockbuster Broadway musical destined run for years. Million Dollar Quartet tries to make a gourmet meal from the same recipe, but Eric Schaeffer's deflated production isn't as astute or as intricately assembled musically and dramatically as its smashing predecessor.
The book, usually an afterthought in the jukebox musical genre, is actually one of the show's strengths. Perhaps that's because authors Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux use rock-'n'-roll impresario Sam Phillips (played with vigor and conviction by Hunter Foster) to drive the story. The founder of Sun Records, he launched a bevy of '50s rockers to stardom and brought together four of his biggest names just before Christmas 1956 for a one-time joint recording session in Memphis that this musical loosely attempts to recreate.
Surprisingly, for a musical that boasts more than 20 classic rock songs, many of the numbers fail to soar, in part because the show seems to have been assembled on the cheap. Instead of using a full -- orchestra, the charming performers Eddie Clendening (Elvis Presley), Lance Guest (Johnny Cash), Levi Kreis (Jerry Lee Lewis) and Robert Britton Lyons (Carl Perkins) -- play their own instruments, supported by bass player Corey Kaiser and drummer Larry Lelli. Almost the entire show is stuffed into Derek McLane's recording-studio set, and despite some exciting renditions of "Blue Suede Shoes," "I Walk the Line," "Hound Dog" and "Great Balls of Fire," one can't help wondering if song selection was determined by whatever the creators were readily able to get the rights to.
Aside from Broadway vet Foster, Elizabeth Stanley, the sole female presence, impresses as Elvis' girlfriend, Dyanne. Kreis has a blast with Lewis' bombastic personality, but Guest's unassuming Cash makes a stronger impression. But when the pace and energy of a show that's only 90 minutes lag, it's a sign that maybe this material should be relegated to the recording studio, or maybe the history books.
BY DIANE SNYDER
Visit the Site
Eddie Clendening, Lance Guest, Robert Britton Lyons, Victoria Matlock, James Moye, Eric Stang
New World Stages
340 West 50th St
Neighborhood: West 50s
New York, NY 10019
Share this page!