The opening-night audience was on its feet for the final set at Everett Performing Arts Center.
Audience member Wendy Poischbeg of Everett said she probably logged a big chunk of her daily 10,000 steps dancing to the tunes.
“Million Dollar Quartet,” launched by Village Theatre 13 years ago, is back for a joyful run through July 28 here in Everett.
The musical tells the true story of an impromptu recording session in 1956 of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Music lovers won’t want to miss this slice of rock ‘n’ roll history.
“Million Dollar Quartet” — by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux — was launched in 2006 by Village Originals Festival of New Musicals and then premiered here in 2007 with a record-breaking box office return. It went on to play Chicago, New York, London, across the states in a national tour and in Las Vegas for three years.
While on Broadway, the show received several 2010 Tony award nominations, including a win for Levi Kreis, who originated the role of Jerry Lee Lewis for Village. Kreis also will be remembered by Village audiences for his outstanding performance in “Pump Boys and Dinettes.”
On Dec. 4, 1956, rockabilly singer and guitarist Carl Perkins (who wrote “Blue Suede Shoes”) was at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, to make a new recording. Producer Sam Phillips brought in Jerry Lee Lewis to add piano to Perkins’ band. Johnny Cash came in to listen and talk to Phillips, and a young Elvis Presley (also interested in talking with Phillips) and his girlfriend showed up as well.
This Village cast is talented. Great actors all, they also are fine musicians.
Matt Wade as Phillips even shows off his skill as a harmonica player in the final set. Skye Scott is Perkins, Brian Grey is Cash, Jason Kappus is Presley and John Countryman is Lewis. These actors offer believable likenesses to the musical legends, but none is a caricature.
Countryman and Scott have previous experience with “Million Dollar Quartet” tours, and Grey came in from Chicago to sing those low bass notes. Kappus and Wade are Village veterans, as is Cayman Ilika, who plays Elvis’s girlfriend and who nearly steals the show with her tunes. Village audiences will remember Ilika as Mary Poppins.
Bassist Chris Jones plays Perkins’ brother Jay and James Reif is Perkins’ drummer. These great musicians were in the original festival production at Village and are longtime members of Village pit orchestras.
The set, costumes, sound and lighting work are detailed and accurate.
Be warned, this isn’t a musical with a big story line. It’s a snippet of history. But it provides the setting for great music and a reminder of how that music is made even amid a clash of personalities.
The songs include “Who Do You Love?” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Down by the Riverside,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Hound Dog” and “Riders in the Sky.”
The show’s gospel set was moving and featured brilliant harmonies, and due acknowledgement is paid to African-American songwriters of the day.
Directed by Scott Weinstein and Chuck Mead, the show is close to two hours long without an intermission. You will be surprised how fast it’s over.
“Million Dollar Quartet” is that fun.
If you go
“Million Dollar Quartet” by Village Theatre is showing through July 28 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. For tickets, call the box office at 425-257-8600 or go online to https://villagetheatre.org/everett/million-dollar-quartet.php.
No show July 4. See it 8 p.m. Fridays, July 5, 12, 19 and 26; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, July 6, 13, 20 and 27; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, July 7, 14 and 21; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, July 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25; added matinees Thursdays, July 18 and 25; and last show at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 28.
Next season’s Village Theatre shows include “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Guys & Dolls,” “She Loves Me,” “Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Gunter” and “The Wedding Singer.”