Shake, Rattle or Roll but DO get yourself to a performance of “Million Dollar Quartet” for an unforgettable evening of Rock ‘n’ Roll history and live performance. Harrah’s newly remodeled showroom hosts the Las Vegas version of this hit Broadway and touring production, which gives audiences a fly-on-the-wall perspective into a once-in-a-lifetime event that took place December 1956: the convergence of 4 legends in Rock ‘n’ Roll history.
Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and… the one and only Elvis Presley came together for an incredible but true jam session at Sun Records in Memphis, the studio that launched all their careers. Partly fate, partly some manipulation on the part of Sun founder Sam Phillips, the night as depicted on stage provides background on each musician’s roots and personas, a glimpse into the music industry of the time, and musical hit after musical hit performed live on stage with drums and stand-up bass rounding out the ensemble.
But please do not mistake the premise as just another tribute show. Instead, be prepared for a reminder of how these original Rock gods created a template for the lexicon that still resonates with audiences of all ages today — the beats, the riffs, the delivery packed with true heart, soul and swagger.
A handsome and impressive stage set provides the necessary look and feel of the humble Sun Records studio. As the show opens, Sam Phillips has already sold off his #1 boy Elvis to RCA in order to keep Sun Records afloat. Now RCA wants Philips himself on their payroll, understanding only too well that Philips has tapped into a new sound and market that’s light years ahead of other industry execs at the time. But Phillips would rather remain at the helm of Sun Records and seeks to lock fast-rising star Johnny Cash into a contract renewal deal. Meanwhile, Elvis would love nothing more than the opportunity to work with his mentor Sam Phillips again. And just so it’s not a total boys’ club, Elvis’ girlfriend, singer Dyanne, has come along for the night.
Will Cash re-sign with Sun? Will Jerry Lee make a hit record? Will Elvis get to work with Phillips again? Even the most casual Rock music historian knows the answers. But “Million Dollar Quartet” isn’t about learning how things turned out. It’s about the music! And it is in the musical performances that Million Dollar Quartet shines. Whether watching the acrobatic piano virtuosity of Jerry Lee Lewis, the distinctively mixed musical style of Johnny Cash, the guitar rooted passion of Carl Perkins or the King himself, Elvis – not to mention a couple of sultry, show-stopping female vocal performances by Dyanne – the show leads us to the inevitable finale that has audiences on their feet, in the aisles and leaving the theatre talking about how much feel-good fun and enjoyment they had at this show.