For months we have been excited about the prospect of seeing “Million Dollar Quartet!” Friday night’s opening show exceeded our expectations. Four rock icons including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis delivered a musical history lesson, what actually may have happened Dec. 4, 1956, in Sun Records recording studio. What spiked our interest with surprise: 2014 Rancho Cotate graduate Shovanny Delgado Carillo played Brother Jay the bassist!
Shovanny, still a community member, renowned at Rancho for his love and enthusiasm for all things musical, joins this festive night as no other bass ever did. Never overshadowing the four celebrities, Shovanny worked his instrument with passion and expertise. Later in the show, he moves that bass gracefully as his dance partner when he attacks center stage.
6th Street Playhouse originally set the run of “Million Dollar Quartet” from Feb. 22 through March 17 but pre-sales have already caused an extension of dates. Tickets may be purchased online at 6thstreetplayhouse.com or by calling 1-707-523-4185.
Leading the Million Dollar Quartet has to be Elvis Presley performed to perfection by Daniel Durston who has reprised this role which he has played on national tour. Everything about Durston is Elvis from his hair to his black and white loafers. Elvis pours through every song that Durston sings through his finale with “Hound Dog.” His dance moves out Elvis Elvis.
When Steve Lassiter sings “I Walk the Line” dressed in black from top to toe, he need not say, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” as that deep and resonate Cash voice echoes through the word “because your mine” with Folsom Prison sincerity.
Carl Perkins quietly portrayed by Jake Turner holds his passion close until the story verges on climax. We discover how difficult it was for him to see his iconic “Blue Suede Shoes” be commandeered by the King. Turner’s rendition of Perkins’ songs matches his dramatic efforts.
Comic relief, on this historic night, arrives in the form of twenty-one-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis as Nick Kenrick’s performance nearly steals the show. Humor and hope surge through this brash but likeable character as the night reaches a crisis. “Great Balls of Fire” and “Shake Baby, Shake” cap the evening. Kenrick was also the musical director of the show.
Benjamin Stowe as Sam Phillips serves as the choral voice narrating and commenting on the celebrity singers until near the end when suddenly he becomes a part of the drama. Stowe becomes the master of ceremonies who must enter into the act.
Samantha Arden plays Dyanne, Elvis’s date for the night, with physical energy in her dance moves and her beautiful voice singing “I Hear You Knocking” as it may have never been sung before. Arden’s interaction with all of the characters is an uplifting enhancement to the story.
Fluke the Drummer, played by Nick Ambrosino, provides more than the beat and the rhythm. A one-man show on the drums, he’s animated and alive to all the action around him as he responds expressively while he plays.
Michael Ray Wisely, the director, and his production staff pull this exciting show together to provide the audience with a history show which he says some people have called the “Mount Rushmore of Rock Music.” Ellen Howes’ costumes set off the “celebrities” and other characters boldly. Connor Woods’ scenic design was well adapted for the 6th Street Playhouse and meshed well with Albert Casselhoff’s sound design and April George’s lighting design.
“Million Dollar Quartet” offers so many things in one performance: a history lesson, a fifties musical show, some drama and some comedy. The performances have been extended through March 24. For tickets, contact 6th Street Playhouse at 6thstreetplayhouse.com or call 1-707-523-4185.