Playhouse musical 'Million Dollar Quartet' brings legends to the stage
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
A musical inspired by legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins is now playing at Mountain Playhouse.
“Million Dollar Quartet” debuted Oct. 1 and will continue through Oct. 13 at the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown. Not counting opening night, there will be 15 performances of the musical in total; both evening shows and matinees are being offered.
The musical tells the story of the famed recording session that brought these four musicians together for the first — and the only — time. The session, described as an impromptu one, took place in early December of 1956 at Sun Record Studios in Memphis.
The quartet received its name from a reporter, who had written that “this quartet could sell a million.”
Patty Carnevali, Mountain Playhouse’s executive director, said “Million Dollar Quartet” was performed at the theatre last season as well.
“People loved the music and, of course, Elvis, Carl, Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash are legends,” she said. “It’s a high energy show. The music the audience soaks up is performed by a cast of actor-musicians. It’s live. There is no soundtrack. It’s really a 90-minute concert with a great true story.”
The musical is inspired by a book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. Original conception and direction is by Floyd Mutrux. The score of “Million Dollar Quartet” features rock n’ roll, gospel, country and R&B hits such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Great Balls of Fire,” just to name a few.
The actors who will be bringing the musical to life are: Joe Casey (Johnny Cash); Luke Darnell (Carl Perkins); Benjamin van Dipen (Jerry Lee Lewis); Frederic Heringes (Sam Phillips); Kyle Jurassic (Elvis Presley); Sara Sawyer (Dyanne); Brandon Lambert (Fluke); Larry Tobias (Brother Jay).
The musical is directed by Tobias, a Mountain Playhouse veteran.
Carnevali described “Million Dollar Quartet” as “so well done.”
“Audiences get a peek at what these music legends were like at the beginning of their careers,” she said. “It also skillfully showcases some of the hits that each musician was known for into the storyline. Of the four, Carl Perkins is sometimes outshone by the others, so it’s great that audiences get to know him.”
A question and answer session, “Talk Back,” will give audience members the opportunity to discuss the show with the cast members following the 3 p.m. matinee on Oct. 6.
While at Mountain Playhouse, ticket-holders are invited to view the artwork on display inside the Jenner Art Gallery. The October exhibit features stained glass artwork by Gina Williams, a Cambria County native who has been working in her medium for nearly 20 years.
The musical is rated PG for mild language.
It is the final production of Mountain Playhouse’s 80th anniversary season.
“We wanted to end our 80th anniversary season with a bang,” Carnevali said, “to remind people what a gem the Mountain Playhouse is and just what they can find here — everything from the current drama “5/31/1889: The Flood” to ridiculous farces to romantic comedies to musicals to out and out rock and roll.
“(‘Million Dollar Quartet’ audience members) will be standing up and dancing for the last 15 minutes, which is one big ol’ encore. And they’ll be singing on the way home and just might go dig out some old records.”
Tickets for “Million Dollar Quartet” can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 814-629-9220.
For more information about Mountain Playhouse, visit www.mountainplayhouse.org.