Book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux
Original Concept and Direction by Floyd Mutrux
Inspired by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins
“Million Dollar Quartet” is inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. On December 4, 1956, four young musicians gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. “Million Dollar Quartet” brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.
*Note; All cigarettes used in the show are non-tobacco herbal cigarettes and are just used for effect.
Music is defined as: the art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.
Simply put: music is the sound of our very soul. I believe it follows that Rock ‘n Roll is the soul’s most primal expression. It burst from the seams of the late 1940’s and would, by the mid-50’s, cause a revolution of hip swiveling teens to scare the daylights out of their parents.
At the time our play takes place, this Sound Revolution was just beginning. And Sam Phillips was its greatest architect. Sam knew the awesome power of music from the time he was in grade school. The favorite nephew of his mute Aunt Emma, he learned that rhythmic gestures could make a wordless language. He soon understood that the language of music could transcend the borders of the physical; and of social status, color, age, and even time. Sam’s Uncle Silas (not his uncle at all, but a black man who’d fallen on hard times) moved into the Phillips’ house when Sam was just a boy. Sam’s father welcomed Silas, it was the Christian thing to do. Silas would have a huge impact on Sam’s sense of self- and his ability to observe, empathize, and make joy. Sam thought: what if I had been born black?He saw that physical traits did not define a person and discovered that music was color blind. From back room juke joints to gospel churches, everyone could understand the beat. By his early 20s, Sam was in Memphis, devoted to the search for young musicians, looking always “to bring out of a person what was in him… to help him express what he believed his message to be”.*
In recent years, science has proven what our ancestors (and Sam) already knew: rhythm, singing, stomping, hollerin’ to the beat- are honest expressions of our very core. Rock ‘n roll is the musical dialect that erupted like a volcano on December 4th, 1956. In the hands of these hungry, mostly unknown, young men: Johnny, Carl, Elvis, and Jerry Lee- and their fearless crusader, Sam Phillips, the soundtrack of our lives was forever changed.
Today’s music is a direct descendant of the Rock ‘n Roll that percolated at Sun Records on that fateful day. We have seen it shine as a beacon of truth, bridging the chasms of social order, religion, and segregation; each of us connected by its power. We take our place in this theatre, as the grandchildren and great grandchildren of melody and rhythm and of course, all that hip swiveling.
Rock ‘n Roll was nothing less than a sound revolution. This is the story of how it all went down.
*from ‘Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll’, by Peter Guralnick
~ Susanne Boulle
Director, Million Dollar Quartet.
(In Order of Appearance)
Brother Jay: Bill Morey
Fluke: Jon Rossi
Jerry Lee Lewis: Taylor Gray
Sam Philips: Luke Darnell
Carl Perkins: Austin Hohnke
Johnny Cash: Peter Oyloe
Dyanne: Tiffan Borelli
Elvis Presley: Daniel Durston