Opening this week, Million Dollar Quartet is a new musical which is inspired by a true-life recording session at Sun Records featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
The single-set play takes place at Sun’s Memphis recording studios on December 4th 1956 when the four were brought together by studio owner Sam Phillips, the man who discovered them and brought their music to the world.
With Elvis already sold to RCA and two of the remaining three stars looking to pastures new, the recording session provides the backdrop to an exploration of jealousy, resentment, friendship and divided loyalties.
The producers have wisely focussed on casting performers with outstanding voices rather than looking for doubles of the quartet.
Each of the main for cast members is capable of delivering a roof-raising performance but unavoidably, as good as the cast are, the music is the real star with classics such as Great Balls of Fire, Blue Suede Shoes and Hound Dog all present and correct.
One suspects the chronology of the real life events differs from their portrayal here but that hardly matters – musical theatre is seldom about historical accuracy.
The running time of around 90 minutes allows for a comfortable telling of the story without dragging on too long and the play is nicely capped by a mini concert by all four leads which certainly left the preview audience leaving with a spring in their step.
Million Dollar Quartet opens March 3rd at the Noël Coward Theatre