Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis & Carl Perkins Are All Back In Town
Reviewed by Tom Jones
September 22, 2023
It is December 4, 1956. Sam Phillips, founder and owner of Sun Record in Memphis, Tennessee, has lined up a couple of his back-up performers and three of the stars that he helped become famous to hopefully spend a few hours reminiscing and perhaps creating more musical memories. Jerry Lee Lewis is a newcomer to the group and his arrival was not anticipated, as he just wants an audition. The premise of the get-together is already in jeopardy. Phillips has become known as the Father of the Rock and Roll Genre, but the jukebox industry has its challenges.
Elvis Presly gained instant stardom when he signed with Sam Phillips at Sun Records, but has said goodbye to Sun and signed with RCA. Sun Records is floundering. Unbeknownst to Phillips, Johnny Cash has signed with Columbia Records when his contract with Sun is up. There is still friction between Presley and Perkins. Presley soared to fame with a song written by Perkins – “Blue Suede Shoes” and Perkins is still ticked that Presley got the fame that Perkins sought. All is not sunny and bright, but there is an obvious comradery among the group whose music was taking the world by storm.
That December get-together is the interesting basis of reviving great music of the ‘50s and sharing some of that era’s musical history with today’s audiences. The show is a wow! The music was famous more than 60 years ago, and much of it remains amazingly familiar.
The Candlelight cast is a group with enormous talent. Although they are not yet familiar to Candlelight audiences and do not have the physical appearance of the icons they portray, each has an obvious background of the music they produce. Wyatt Andrew Brownell is an over-the top Jerry Lee Lewis. His keyboard ability is phenomenal whether he is sitting on the piano bench, or upside down on the piano itself. Jesse Plourde’s voice is so close to that of Elvis Presley that it is kind of spooky. Steven Lasiter’s Bass is as if Johnny Cash were standing on stage. Tarif Pappu has a more difficult role. He portrays Carl Perkins who is less known to local audiences than the first three performers, but Pappu is such a talent that he lights up the stage of the Candlelight. Charlotte Campbell Parrott portrays Dyanne, a girlfriend Presley brings to the recording studio. She is given her chance to wow the audiences, even though she is not part of that era’s history. Kyle Wells Lahr and Robert Brandon are the excellent back-up musicians portraying Brother Jay and Fluke.
Chas Lederer is Sam Phillips, the Sun Record owner/founder. He doesn’t sing or dance, but is effective in moving the story along and keeping the audience well-informed between the terrific musical memories. The set is an interesting look at Phillip’s recording studio, an very impressive look at the1950s, abounding memorabilia and a touch of tackiness.
Christopher Wren directed this production, and is new to Candlelight audiences. This is twelfth time he has directed “Million Dollar Quartet” in various locations in the past eight years. His familiarity with the show is obvious, as his direction results in a sparkling production of great talent, and an historic resume off the Rock and Roll era in general!
“Quartet” was written by Coln Escott and Floyd Mutrux and opened on Broadway in 2010 after several tryouts and regional productions. It has subsequently been produced in several venues in the United States, England and Canada.
“Quartet” provides a great evening of musical memories with outstanding talent! As the evening drew drawing to an end, much of the audience was on its feet singing and dancing. They didn’t want the show to end – until the announcer proclaimed, “Elvis has left the building!”
“Million Dollar Quartet”
Through November 12, 2023
Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
4747 Marketplace Drive
Johnstown,, CO 80534
Box Office 970/744-3747