Million Dollar Quartet Review
The Bristol Hippodrome
Monday 28th November – Saturday 3rd December 2016
In this first ever UK tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet”, Jason Donovan plays talent spotting record producer, Sam Phillips who’s sometimes called “The Father of rock ‘n’ roll”.
One December night in 1956, four legendary musicians got together at Sun Records in Memphis.
Million Dollar Quartet is based on that unique night when Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, all with a solid grounding of Deep South music, jammed together. There’s a little more to the plot than that, but not a great deal, as this show is more of a showcase of musical talent than a story.
MILLION DOLLAR REVIEW
We join these rock ‘n’ roll legends inside Sun Records recording studio where more than 20 famous hits are performed, including Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, I Walk The Line and Great Balls of Fire.
The show bursts into life with Blue Suede Shoes. The ‘band’ on stage play all the live music which generates a buzz in the audience. I take my eyes off the stage for a moment to witness subtle clapping, hand jiving and arm-chair dancing all around me!
Guitarist Matt Wycliffe plays Carl Perkins, former golden boy and original performer of Blue Suede Shoes for which he won a gold record. The song went on to become an even bigger hit when it was later covered by Elvis. Matt is no stranger to rock ‘n’ roll as he played Buddy Holly for 2 ½ years!
Robbie Durham with his rich deep voice performs as Johnny Cash, who by this point has moved away from his gospel roots and become an establish chart artist with hits like Cry, Cry, Cry and Folsom Prison Blues. His rendition of I Walk the Line Is a major crowd pleaser.
Ross William Wild joins the cast as Elvis Presley, Sun Record’s greatest discovery. Ross certainly has a bit of Elvis appeal with his sparkly eyes and musical talent, yet, perhaps like a young Elvis he seems genuinely thrilled when the audience shows its appreciation for his performance.
Martin Kaye (Jerry Lee Lewis) is wild and absurdly talented on the piano. I’ve never heard anyone tickle the ivories like he does. At times he lifts his hands two feet above the keys and then whilst looking elsewhere, manages to bash them down onto the right notes. Sometimes he plays glissando, running his hands rapidly along the keys with the fastest and lightest of touch and other times he jerks his leg up and plonks down on the keys with his shoe! Yes, there’s some gimmicky stuff in there, but my goodness, the sounds which come out are incredible. Encore!
The men are joined by Elvis’s girlfriend, Dyanne (played by Katie Ray) who’s based on a young woman whose voice appeared in the session recordings, but whose identity was a bit of a mystery for many years.
Million Dollar Quartet is suitable for young and old as long as you don’t mind the stage cigarettes! There’s a high proportion of silver hair in the audience so it’s lovely to see my twelve year old enjoying the show on one side of me and my Mother and Father reliving some of the music from their youth on the other!
I’ve listened to some of the original 1950s recording session and it feels such a privilege to hear these remarkable musicians experimenting with different harmonies and performing songs from their gospel roots. The stage show is more polished, like a gig, but still manages to convey the essence of a bunch of talented young musicians enjoying a casual jam session together. Like the Million Dollar Quartet, there’s a lot of musical talent up on that stage including the rest of the band, including Ben Cullinworth on the drums and James Swinnerton on Bass.
Thanks to The Bristol Hippodrome and to Million Dollar Quartet for a great night out all round.
CAST AND CREDITS
Million Dollar Quartet is written by Tony Award nominees Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux and produced by Simon Friend, Mark Goucher, Tom O’Connell, Laurence Myers and Gavin Kalin. Olivier nominated Ian Talbot OBE, renowned for his tenure as both Artistic and Managing director at The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park directs.
Jason Donovan is cast as record producer Sam Phillips – the man who brought the 4 recording stars together to create music history. Jason has an impressive musical theatre background, including leading roles in The Rocky Horror Show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sweeney Todd and most famously, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. A household name, Jason was launched to stardom appearing as Scott in the hit Australian soap operaNeighbours. His hugely successful pop career has seen Jason sell millions of albums and top the charts worldwide. He is currently visiting venues around the UK with his Ten Good Reasons and Greatest Hits tour and presents a show every Sunday on Heart FM.
Martin Kaye plays Jerry Lee Lewis. Martin played the role on the first North American tour of Million Dollar Quartet, which, after a year and a half, led him to open the Las Vegas Production at Harrah’s. Martin has received countless accolades and the award for Best Actor by Vegas Seven Magazine.
Robbie Durham performs as Johnny Cash. His stage credits include 1st cover Tony in Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace); Hoods (Arts Theatre); Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre); Dreamboats and Petticoats (West End & UK tour); Kiss Me, Kate (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); The Confession Room (Landor Theatre); Olivier Awards 2011 (Drury Lane Theatre); Cinderella (Pavilion Theatre Rhyl); Broadway to West End (Drury Lane Theatre).
Ross William Wild joins the cast as Elvis Presley. Recent roles include Norman in Dreamboats and Miniskirts (UK Tour), Michael in The Witches of Eastwick (The Watermill Theatre), Jason in the European Premiere of BARE (Union Theatre and Greenwich Theatre in London) and Kenickie in Grease (National tour).
Matt Wycliffe appears as Carl Perkins. Stage credits include Outspan Foster in The Commitments (Palace Theatre) Bob Guadio in Jersey Boys(Prince Edward Theatre, WhatsOnStage Award nomination), Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story (Duchess Theatre).
Katie Ray is Dyanne. Her stage credits include Beauty in Beauty and the Beast (Central Theatre Chatham), Wendy in Peter Pan (Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin and Mayflower Theatre, Southampton), Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK Tour), Liesl in The Sound of Music (Royal Palladium).
For more information, please visit the official website: www.milliondollarquartetlive.co.uk
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Monday 28th November – Saturday 3rd December 2016
Matinees on Wed & Sat @2.30pm
Tickets from £14.90
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DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW.
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