Wednesday, May 15, 2019

MDQ - Slamdunk from First Note to Last

The concert at the end of Million Dollar Quartet (Mark Kitaoka)
Million Dollar Quartet
Village Theatre
Issaquah: through June 23, 2019
Everett: June 28 – July 28, 2019

In 2007, Village Theatre debuted a fabulous new musical revue which was based on a real life night when Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis walked into Sun Records. Twelve years later, Million Dollar Quartet has been to Broadway and awarded Levi Kreis, the virtuoso piano-playing Lewis, a Tony Award. Now, it’s playing regionally and Village decided it was time to remount their hit production.

It is December 4, 1956 and Sun Records had recently launched the careers of all but the new-and-brash Lewis. Sam Phillips (Matt Wade) is hoping to sign Cash to a new longer contract not knowing that Cash has already signed with another company. Phillips sold Elvis’s contract in order to salvage Sun from going under, but Elvis still trusts Phillips more than most people and wants Phillips to come work with him again. Perkins is angry that Phillips has paid more attention to others and has also signed with another company. It’s a moment of great transition.

Million Dollar Quartet features some of the best rockabilly musicians. Four remarkable performances by Brian Grey as Johnny Cash, John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis, Skye Scott as Carl Perkins and Jason Kappus as Elvis Presley, are as good as it gets, as they sing and play all their own instruments on stage. They are backed up by Chris Jones on bass and James “Rif” Reif on drums, creating a seamless musical experience of the earliest days of these great performers.

Director Scott Weinstein, having been attached to various iterations of the revue over the years, knows many of these quadruple threats. It’s hard enough to find people who are excellent at singing, dancing and acting. Here, they must be consummate, amazing musicians, as well! Thankfully, they are.

The revue adds a woman to, probably, infuse at least a little female influence in the evening. Vocally sumptuous, Cayman Ilika brings her silky pipes to Fever, just so we can all swoon in her presence. Elvis did bring his current girlfriend to that evening, but she wasn’t a singer. Still, the revue is made better by adding Ilika’s vocals to the song harmonies.

Countryman is, like Kreis, an amazing pianoman. He’s funny and unassuming, until his fingers hit the keyboard, and then he’s simply on fire.

From the first notes of Blue Suede Shoes to the last of the mini-concert-in-shiny-clothing at the end (don’t leave before that happens!), this is a joyous evening of top-notch entertainment. Don’t miss it!

For more information, go to www.villagetheatre.org or call (425) 392-2202. 

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