‘Million Dollar Quartet’ at Wolf Trap

Wow, just wow! There is a reason why Million Dollar Quartet is a Tony Award-winning musical. It features a talented cast, amazing singing, and musicianship, incredible music, awesome dance moves by Elvis (thank you very much), an intriguing story, and an insight into music history.

Cast of 'Million Dollar Quartet.' Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Cast of ‘Million Dollar Quartet.’ Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis coined “The Million Dollar Quartet” fatefully met up for a jam session December 4, 1956 in Memphis, Tennessee at Sun Records. The musical recreates this incredible time in history. All the musicians had at one time or another been signed by Sun Records. Complete luck happened when all four musicians ended up in the studio at the same time. Of course with such talent, friendly competition ensues pushing each other to greater heights.

The American Tour of Million Dollar Quartet rocked Wolf Trap last night and plays tonight and two shows  tomorrow. The set, designed by Derek McLane, depicts the famous Sun Records Studio, which originally was a gas station. The costumes, by Jane Greenwood, gives an authentic feel to the 1950s time period and show. The lighting, by Howell Brinkley, directs the audience’s attention to the scenes. The sound by Kai Harada was clear and perfectly balanced so you could enjoy every word and lyric.

The show is expertly cast with the actors physically, vocally, and emotionally filling the huge shoes of these rock ‘n roll icons. It is directed by Signature Theatre’s talented Artistic Director Eric Schaffer, who seems to be everywhere these days!

Gabe Bowling plays rock legend Carl Perkins. Bowling kicks off the show with a rendering rendition of “Blue Suede Shoes” along with the cast. Bowling does a great job hilariously verbally sparring as Perkins with antagonist Jerry Lee Lewis aka Colte Julian. Bowlings commands presence on the stage with his strong guitar playing and swagger. I didn’t realize Perkins wrote and sang “Blue Suede Shoes” before Elvis took it and made it a hit.

Colte Julian, who plays Jerry Lee Lewis, steals the show as the antagonist. His piano playing is electric and mesmerizing! He kills it on “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and his “preacher” speech is hilarious. Lewis always tries to one up all the rock ‘n roll icons which creates delightful tension and witty comebacks. He plays the piano upside down, with his shoe, and behind his back just like Jerry Lee Lewis. He even has the moppy hair like Lewis.

Scott Moreau, dressed in black, plays Johnny Cash, has his mannerisms down pat, and sounds just like Johnny Cash. It’s uncanny. He killed it with “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line.”

Jacob Rowley rocked it as Elvis with his pompadour and swagger. He danced just like Elvis. His rendition of “Hound Dog” sounded just like Elvis was singing, complete with Elvis’ ‘moves.’

Dyanne, played by Laura Obeanauf, was Elvis Presley’s girlfriend at the time shines! She captures attention with her bright, pink dress, awesome voice, and hip thrusts to boot. She sensually sings “Fever” at the goading of Lewis. She plays the role of peacemaker and moral authority helping to bring order to the competitive nature of the musicians.

Bryan Langlitz plays Sam Phillips – the founder and CEO of Sun Records – who discovered Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and other famous singers. Langlitz  does an excellent job of narrating the show and keeping the story moving.

Bass player Chuck Zayas who plays Carl Perkins’ brother Jay Perkins plays the bass effortlessly. Patrick Morrow, who jams as the drummer Fluke, puts all his heart and soul into his drumming.

Favorite scenes include watching Rowley dance like Elvis Presley, Moreau holding the guitar like a gun the way Cash played, the finale when the icons donned sparkly jackets and jammed in unison and Perkins jumps on top of the bass to play.

Don’t miss Million Dollar Quartet! It’s incredible!

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with no intermission.


Million Dollar Quarter plays through tomorrow, Sunday, June 28, 2015 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap – 1645 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 255-1868, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif


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