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Review: Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Remarkable night in music history electrifies Beef & Boards stage

  • 2 min to read
Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Submitted photoJerry Lee Lewis (Brian Michael Henry), Carl Perkins (Christopher Wren), Johnny Cash (Justin Figueroa), and Elvis Presley (Edward La Cardo) recreate the moment a photo was taken in Sun Studios in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of "Million Dollar Quartet."

INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re looking for a rockin’ and rollin’ good time, look no further than the stage of Beef & Boards Theatre.

Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Submitted photoJerry Lee Lewis (Brian Michael Henry), Carl Perkins (Christopher Wren), David Perry (Brother Jay), Johnny Cash (Justin Figueroa), and Elvis Presley (Edward La Cardo), on the floor, perform "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of "Million Dollar Quartet."

Now through Aug. 26, the theater presents an electrifying musical interpretation of one of the most extraordinary nights in music history. Set on Dec. 4, 1956, “Million Dollar Quartet” celebrates the twist of fate that brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, for a legendary jam session.

Fans of any of the four might remember the iconic black-and-white photo taken that night … Presley at the piano, with Lewis, Perkins and Cash looking over his shoulder.

It’s touchingly recreated here before the show rockets its way to a gangbusters finale.

Four newcomers to Beef & Boards play the quartet’s icons, and each slips into the roll with unabashed enthusiasm and ease. Their cohesion shines during a stirring rendition of "Down By the Riverside."

Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Submitted photoChristopher Wren plays rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of "Million Dollar Quartet," now on stage through Aug. 26.

Christopher Wren gives Perkins, the “King of Rockabilly,” plenty of life, from the singer’s signature leg kicks to the pickin’ of his guitar. You’ll forget another member of the quartet even had anything to do with “Blue Suede Shoes.” And you’ll be dancing in your seat through his performance of “Who Do You Love?”

Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Submitted photoEdward La Cardo plays the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of "Million Dollar Quartet."

Edward La Cardo plays Presley, focusing on the King’s softer, soulful side and loyalty to the recording studio and man, Sam Phillips, who gave him his big break. He’s certainly got Presley’s moves down, from the hip thrust to his love affair with the mic. “Hound Dog” is definitely a highlight of his night.

Both are highly entertaining and obviously immensely talented … but they are definitely outshined by the other two members of the quartet.

Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Submitted photoBrian Michael Henry plays the "Killer," Jerry Lee Lewis, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of "Million Dollar Quartet," now on stage through Aug. 26.

Brian Michael Henry captures Lewis is true form – zany, unbridled and a hillbilly to the core. His antics provide much of the comic relief as the tale turns slightly dark when the quartet faces an avalanche of secret promises and betrayals. One could get lost just watching him pound away on the piano through “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” You’ll be entranced by his ability to play the piano while standing on it and with the keyboard behind his back … that is if you can take your eyes off the Man in Black.

Historic jam session comes alive in 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Submitted photoJustin Figueroa plays the Man in Black, Johnny Cash, in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of "Million Dollar Quartet."

Justin Figueroa plays Cash with depth and solemnness befitting the often-tormented country boy. He knows exactly how to hold (and play) the guitar like Cash. And his voice is well-suited for Cash’s deep tones, making you melt with “Walk the Line” and slap your knee along with “Folsom Prison Blues.” The theater’s costume/makeup departments deserve kudos as well for expertly sculpting Figueroa’s hair into Cash’s signature style.

The rest of the ensemble is superb. Eddie Curry as Sun Records’ Phillips provides the exposition on the night, telling the audience all about how he met these boys and made them the stars they are today. Jill Kelly Howe gets to show off her pipes in “Fever” as Dyanne, Presley’s girlfriend. Dave Perry as Brother Jay and Nathan Shew as Fluke show their incredible talents as the bass and drum players.

Tickets for the performances range from $44 to $69, include the buffet and are available by calling the box office at 317-872-9664.

Don’t miss out on this incredible party with the true legends of rock ‘n’ roll.

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