MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Rocks the ALHAMBRA Season Opening

If you are looking for high-energy fun, the Alhambra is opening their 2024 with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET.

December 4, 1956, at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, Carl Perkins came in to record some new material with his brothers Clayton and Jay and by drummer W.S. HollandSam Phillips, Sun Records owner, wanted to enhance Perkins’ rockabilly instrumentation and brought in relative unknown Jerry Lee Lewis to play piano.  In the early afternoon, 21-year-old Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist who’s contract had been sold to RCA, arrived to pay a casual visit with his girlfriend.  The ensuing jam session, which consisted largely of snippets of gospel songs that the artists had all grown up singing, seems to have happened by pure chance.

At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash arrived as well.  Jack Clement was engineering that day and remembers saying to himself, “I think I’d be remiss not to record this.”

While MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET takes portions of that jam session and brings it back to life, it uses the setting to highlight the hits by these music titans, how Sam Phillips launched their careers, and the struggles with Sun Records at that time.  Thad Walker does a solid job of portraying a beleaguered Sam Phillips, who not only discovered all four of these artists, but also had to mother and run interference between the personalities.

Alex Burnette portrays Jerry Lee Lewis.  This young man is a serious talent.  Jerry Lee was extremely animated while playing the keyboards, and Mr. Burnette not only captures that admirably, but he plays the spinet piano with Lewis’ exaggerated mannerisms through most of the show.

Matt McClure is a veteran at portraying Carl Perkins.  High-energy in his performance, he is concurrently completely on-point with his guitar throughout the show.

Joshua Pryor portrays the reserved Johnny Cash, and he has those resonant low notes that make you want to melt.

Then there is Corey McKinney as Elvis Presley.  This young man was born to play the king.  He not only has the mannerisms, but his vocals very closely resemble Elvis as well.

Only three other actors participate in this jam session.  Kylie Giliberto (Dyanne) plays Elvis’ girlfriend and gives strong performances in her solo numbers.  Kyle Wells Lahr (brother Jay) and Robert Brandon (Fluke) are for the most part understated instrumentalists who are strong in their craft and heard but not seen.  Mr. Wells did get a few show-off moments with his bass – at one point with Burnette perched on top of his bass playing guitar and McKinney and Pryor posed below and beside them.

Boys just want to have fun, and these boys were having fun and it resounded with the audience.  Director Tod Booth has pulled together a delightfully talented cast for this production.

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET is at the Alhambra Theatre, 12000 Beach Blvd., January 11-February 18, 2024.  Ticket prices vary based on show and seating.  For reservations and a look at the treats yet to come for the season, go to alhambrajax.com or call (904) 641-1212.

By Cessy Newmon

 

About Cessy Newmon