Edge, Reviews, Theater

Throwback jam session comes to life in ‘Million Dollar Quartet’

Dominique Scott as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Actors’ Playhouse production of Million Dollar Quartet. Photo by Alberto Romeu.

Dominique Scott as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Actors’ Playhouse production of Million Dollar Quartet. Photo by Alberto Romeu.

The ultimate blast from the past: Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, together for a once-in-a-lifetime performance. The Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre created a rock-and-roll extravaganza in its production of “Million Dollar Quartet.”

“Million Dollar Quartet” is based on the true events of Dec. 4, 1956, when four of rock and roll’s pioneers met for one legendary jam session. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2010, and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Don’t come to “Million Dollar Quartet” expecting much in the way of plot. Book writers Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux have crafted a surface-level drama about clashing egos and contract renewals, but the music is the real star of the show. With almost two dozen songs in the span of 100 minutes, the show is more of a concert than a musical. There’s something refreshing about a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. “Million Dollar Quartet” succeeds in being nothing but pure fun.

Jeremy Sevelovitz (Carl Perkins) and Lindsey Corey in the Actors’ Playhouse production of Million Dollar Quartet. Photo by Alberto Romeu.

Jeremy Sevelovitz (Carl Perkins) and Lindsey Corey in the Actors’ Playhouse production of Million Dollar Quartet. Photo by Alberto Romeu.

Stepping into the blue suede shoes of such iconic pop-culture figures is an intimidating task for any actor, but the cast at the Actors’ Playhouse made it look easy. Every person onstage is an impeccable impersonator, particularly Eddie Clendening, reprising his role as Elvis, which he originated on Broadway. This spot-on acting only made hearing the iconic songs of these famous artists that much more joyful. “I Walk the Line,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “Hound Dog” were only a few of many standout songs.

The cast featured not only gifted mimics, but impressive musicians. It’s not every day that you see a line of guitarists playing together for a full minute with their instruments behind their backs. Jeremy Sevelovitz’s guitar solos as Carl Perkins were stellar, and Dominique Scott not only played all his notes to perfection at the piano, but did it with all the flamboyant antics and showboating of the real Jerry Lee Lewis.  Even upright bassist Adam Egizi was a scene-stealer, doing tricks on his bass that made the audience gasp and applaud.

This is one show where you won’t want to leave early to beat traffic. The high-octane finale is far and away the best part of the show. Possibly even more enjoyable than the closing songs is the people-watching in the last 15 minutes. “Million Dollar Quartet” fully embraces its rock-concert roots, and it’s a rare and delightful experience to see many of the oldest, most conservative-seeming audience members jam out and sing along like they were teenagers.

Whether its Wayback Wednesday, Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday, “Million Dollar Quartet” delivers a buoyant, fun evening of classic tunes and good, old-fashioned showmanship.

Rating: 4/5 stars

If you go:

“Million Dollar Quartet”

Where: Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Jan. 1.

Cost: $15 student rush tickets, $57-64 regular price

For more information, call 305-444-9293 or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.

November 1, 2016

Reporters

Madelyn Paquette


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