The Last Session: Million Dollar Quartet Ends New York Run Off-Broadway June 24
By Kenneth Jones
The New York City production of Million Dollar Quartet, the musical that dramatizes the historic recording session of four American rock icons who came to light in the '50s, closes June 24 following 901 performances. The show began on Broadway in 2010 before moving to its current Off-Broadway home at New World Stages.
Directed by Eric Schaeffer (Follies), the show — filled with blues and rock 'n' roll hits — opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on April 11, 2010. It transferred to New World Stages on July 28, 2011. The performance count represents the combined Broadway and Off-Broadway engagements.
Million Dollar Quartet — inspired by the true story of a December 1956 Memphis meeting of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, at Sun Records' studio — features a book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux.
The show won a Tony Award (for Featured Actor Levi Kreis, as Lewis) and received Tony nominations for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Musical Revue and three Drama League nominations including Distinguished Production of a Musical and two Distinguished Performance nominations.
Under the gaze of Sam Phillips, the "Father of Rock and Roll," and with Elvis' lady friend in attendance, "the four young musicians united for the only time in their careers for an impromptu recording that has come to be known as one of the greatest rock jam sessions of all time," according to the producers.
Million Dollar Quartet currently features Eddie Clendening (Elvis Presley), Lance Guest (Johnny Cash), Robert Britton Lyons (Carl Perkins), Randy Redd (Jerry Lee Lewis), Victoria Matlock (Dyanne) and Curt Bouril (Sam Phillips).
Throughout the run of the show, the producers invited pop and rock icons to jam with the cast on special nights. Those "drop-in" guests at curtain call included Jerry Lee Lewis (the last surviving member of the real "Million Dollar Quartet"), Grammy Award winner Melissa Etheridge, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love, country music superstar Larry Gatlin, pop music icon Lesley Gore, the Queen of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson, original 1956 "Million Dollar Quartet" audio engineer and music pioneer Cowboy Jack Clement, "Today" show co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, Grammy Award-winning country star Ray Benson and Stray Cat bassist Lee Rocker. The Chicago production, which opened in 2008, is still running at the Apollo Theatre. A national touring company is on the road. A London run ended in 2011.
The score, preserved on a cast album, features the hits from the rock 'n' roll, gospel, R&B and country catalog, including "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "Sixteen Tons," "Who Do You Love?," "Great Balls of Fire," "Riders in the Sky," "I Walk the Line," "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
New World Stages is at 340 W. 50th Street.
The design team for the New York production included Derek McLane (scenic design), Howell Binkley (lighting design), Jane Greenwood (costume design), Kai Harada (sound design) and Chuck Mead (musical arrangements and supervision).
Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Relevant Theatricals, John Cossette Productions, American Pop Anthology and Broadway Across America.
For more information, visit MillionDollarQuartetLive.com.
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