Touring ‘Quartet’ in perfect harmony

Whew! I just saw “Million Dollar Quartet,” and I’m ready to head back.

I didn’t expect the touring production, now at The Smith Center, to be such an electrifying evening of theater. For one thing, the storyline sounded too confining: four now-famed musicians (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis) re-create a historical jam session from 1956. Secondly, what were the chances that a touring production would come up with performers who could even suggest the magic of the legends?

Good news on both counts.

Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux’s book (based on a true story) uses the slim plot to touch on a surprising number of themes. And the union cast is not just superb, but often memorable.

Our heroes find themselves in Memphis’ Sun Records Studio, having been brought together by guru Sam Phillips. The session is rife with unchecked egos and insecurities. Much more moving, though, is how the spirit of talent unites these four personalities. When a brilliant song comes out of nowhere, the players often put aside their differences in the pleasure of artistry.

The cast members all do their own singing and instrumentals, and it’s amazing how on-target they are.

Under the expert direction of Eric Schaeffer, they achieve souls, rather than mere impersonation. Derek Keeling brings to his Cash a gravel-voiced authority and emotional maturity. Lee Ferris’ down-home Perkins demonstrates pipes that bring to mind not just the singer’s voice, but his humble roots and big-star temperament. With all the Elvis impersonators in the world, it’s to Cody Slaughter’s great credit that he puts his own stamp on the role. It’s a three-dimensional performance, and when was the last time you saw a three-dimensional Elvis?

The script gives Lewis the star slot, and the boyish Martin Kaye is up to the challenge. Sure, he’s an exciting musician (you understand why anyone listening to him for five seconds would know immediately this is a young man on the rise), but what takes you aback is how well he demonstrates the character’s joy at being alive. He can’t sit still because he’s too eager to make music, become famous and meet wild women. Kaye’s so likably arrogant, you forgive him his character’s sins.

The show is grounded by Christopher Ryan Grant as the label wonder Phillips. Grant comes across as the kind of father figure who loves “kids’ music,” the record business and the needy up-and-coming.

Technical values are always excellent. You never tire of looking at this one-set show.

And finally: those rude audience members who climb all over you during curtain calls so they can get to their cars before you do are getting their justice here. By leaving before the actors get their due applause, they are missing out on a monumental encore. Those final four numbers give the two-hour production not only a final seal of deserved goodwill, but a musical punch that will probably stay with you forever.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

Spring Preserve kicks off its Holiday Express
Springs Preserve hosts its Holiday Express, which includes a train ride, visits with Santa, SNOW, and a village winter wonderland.
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas art exhibit
Artists from Cirque du Soleil contribute art to Las Vegas gallery exhibit
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with blooming jasmine tea
Red Plate on the Las Vegas Strip serves a cocktail made with jasmine tea
Benny the Ice Skating Dog
Benny is a Las Vegas Labrador who was rescued by former pro skater Cheryl Del Sanyo, and trained to ice skate. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Nevada State Museum
The Nevada State Museum of Las Vegas, located at the Springs Preserve, covers all eras of the state, from prehistoric to today.
Throw a better dinner party
Cash appears at Baseball Winter Meetings
Lights FC mascot Cash plays the electronic drums at the EZ Inflatables’ booth on Tuesday at the Baseball Winter Meetings trade show at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
5 albums to soundtrack your holiday gatherings in style
1. Various Artists, “Holidays Rule," with Rufus Wainwright, The Shins, Calexico and more. 2. Various Artists, “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year," with Lemmy Kilmister, Alice Cooper, Chuck Billy and others. 3. Various Artists, “Christmas on Death Row," featuring Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg to name but a few. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album.” 5. Various Artists, "The Motown Christmas Album." (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like