Broadway musical ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ plays Friday, Jan. 22, at the Vilar Center
If you go ...
What: “Million Dollar Quartet.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.
Cost: Tickets start at $68.
Information: The play recreates a Dec. 4, 1956, recording session with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carol Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Buy tickets at the VPAC box office, call 970-845-8497, or go to http://www.vilarpac.org.
Million Dollar Quarter song list
• “Blue Suede Shoes,” Company
• “Real Wild Child,” Jerry Lee Lewis
• “Matchbox,” Carl Perkins
• “Who Do You Love?” Carl Perkins
• “Folsom Prison Blues,” Johnny Cash
• “Fever,” Dyanne
• “Memories are Made of This,” Elvis Presley
• “That’s All Right,” Elvis Presley
• “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” Company
• “Down By the Riverside,” Company
• “Sixteen Tons/My Babe,” Johnny Cash/Carl Perkins
• “Long Tall Sally,” Elvis Presley
• “Peace in the Valley,” Elvis Presley
• “I Walk the Line,” Johnny Cash
• “I Hear You Knockin’,” Dyanne
• “Party,” Elvis
• “Great Balls of Fire,” Jerry Lee Lewis
• “Hound Dog,” Elvis Presley
• “Ring of Fire,” Johnny Cash
• “See You Later, Alligator,” Carl Perkins
• “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” Jerry Lee Lewis
BEAVER CREEK — At a million bucks, the Million Dollar Quartet is undervalued.
On Dec. 4, 1956, four young music giants — Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins — became the Million Dollar Quartet when they got together in Sun Records studios for one of the world’s greatest jam sessions, the first and only time they did it.
The spirit of the iconic event is captured in the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” The national tour stops today at Beaver Creek’s Vilar Preforming Arts Center.
“It’s not a traditional musical, where the characters reach a point that words cannot convey what you have to say, so you have to sing it,” said Christopher Wren, who plays Perkins. “We’re re-creating this moment in history. It’s a play with great rock ’n’ roll music in it.”
Besides the four rock icons, Elvis brought a date, in real life named Marilyn, but Marilyn didn’t sing. In the play, she’s named Dyanne and is played by Jackie Good.
“Jackie Good sings, and you’ll be glad she did,” Wren said.
Songs and stories
Every song is a story, and they do 20 numbers during the 100-minute show.
The cast knows their characters and the stories behind the songs. No one made them do homework, but they did. It helps when separating fact from fiction.
“We’re all professionals. We do all our background,” Wren said.
For example, Perkins had a hit with “Blue Suede Shoes.” He debuted it on “The Perry Como Show,” and it went on to sell 1.1 million copies. Perkins was in the hospital recovering from a car crash when Presley recorded it and made a bigger hit.
In the musical, the two are depicted in the play as having a conflict over it, mostly because conflict is good theater. In reality, though, Perkins still got paid for Presley’s success with the song and was OK with it.
“Carl just wanted people to hear his music,” Wren said. “Back then, everyone covered everyone’s songs.”
Then there are the two legends about the inspiration for “Blue Suede Shoes.”
In the first legend, Perkins and Cash were sitting around Sun Records one day as Perkins complained that he couldn’t think of anything to write songs about.
Cash is reported to have said, “Why don’t you write a song about those fancy blue suede shoes you’re wearing.”
“Why would a sharecropper from Tennessee write a song about shoes?” came Perkins’ reported reply.
Another version of the legend has Perkins playing a show one night, and in the audience was a handsome young gentleman, dancing with a stunning young woman who accidentally stepped on his new suede shoes.
“Uh uh honey, don’t you step on my new suede shoes,” the man reportedly told her.
The national tour opened in Phoenix and headed to Great Falls and Bozeman, Montana. They’re here today, and then they’re everywhere. They’ll be on the road until early May, and then back in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where it all began, for a month and a half run.