“Million Dollar Quartet” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – December 21, 2019


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

If you aren’t into Broadway musicals but you love the rock ‘n’ roll tunes penned by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, you will love “Million Dollar Quartet” where these artists tunes are featured.  The Phoenix Theatre Company’s stellar production allows maximum enjoyment of the hit songs.  If these hit pop tunes aren’t your thing, you will marvel at the production’s faithful re-creation of that December 7, 1956 day when Sun Records promoter Sam Phillips brought the group back together for an unprecedented jamming session after this quartet had long sense gone their own individual ways.

The vibrant, toe-tapping musical extravaganza is perfectly staged by Scott Weinstein that heightens the tension between the players in the cramped studio Phillips used where he discovered each of the talents.  People said rock ‘n’ roll would quickly fade but this prediction didn’t occur.

The show and the four performers who artfully craft stirring imitations of these greats is a thrilling delight that brought the capacity opening night audience to its feet.  Each member of the quartet essay their own hit tunes and then at the end after their individual foibles and antics are tellingly exposed they merge for a jamming finale that leaves audiences thoroughly entertained.

“Million Dollar Quartet” is not the often bland tunefest that stifle many jukebox musicals that are packed with biographical profiles that tell little interesting about the composers and how their music was created.  “Million Dollar Quartet” is more dashingly dynamic as biographical details don’t plague the show and its foot-stomping music.

Everything in this production is perfect.  Jerry Lee Lewis’ brusque, fight-inducing, and sexually throbbing manner is played with wild abandon by Chris Lash.  Carl Perkins initial hate of the others is stoically played by Skye Scott.  Elvis Presley’s wild dance gyrations are graphically displayed by Kavan Hashimian, while statuesque Johnny Cash is played with elegant deep notes by Gregg Hammer.  In fairness, all four performers have played these roles over a long period of time but that doesn’t change the fact that they are remarkable in their interpretations.  Augmenting the quartet are artful Kyle Sorrell as the sternly opinionated Sam Phillips, and Alyssa Chiarello as Elvis’ girl, Dyanne, who sings a jivin’ “Fever.”  Austin Case and Alex Crossland play swinging background bass and drums.

Even if pop rock music is not your thing, “Million Dollar Quartet” will entertain with such standards as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Party,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Hound Dog” among the almost two dozen songs included.  “Million Dollar Quartet” continues through February 16.  For tickets, call The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A