Hits keep coming in Broadway By the Bay’s ‘Million Dollar Quartet’

Rock ‘n’ roll history was made Dec. 4, 1956, in Memphis, Tenn., when four legends got together for a one-night-only jam session.

“Million Dollar Quartet,” presented by Broadway By the Bay, tells how Carl Perkins (Tarif Pappu), Johnny Cash (Michael Perrie Jr.), Jerry Lee Lewis (Nick Kenrick) and Elvis Presley (Sam C. Jones) belted out one hit after another.

Sam Phillips (Rich Matli), founder of Sun Records, was hoping to have them under contract to keep them away from rival Columbia Records.

The plot by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux is fairly thin, but it’s secondary to the music.

In a mere 95 minutes without intermission, the audience is treated to such hits as “Blue Suede Shoes,” written by Perkins but appropriated by Presley; “Memories Are Made of This,” “Down by the Riverside,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Hound Dog” and “See You Later Alligator.”

Although all four singers are terrific, Perrie stands out as Cash in “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Sixteen Tons,” “I Walk the Line” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

Reprising his role from the Palo Alto Players production in September (as do  Pappu as Perkins and Daniel Murguia on bass), Kenrick as Lewis is a terrific, athletic pianist. He showcases his skills in “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”

Sammi Hildebrandt as Dyanne, Elvis’ girlfriend, adds heat with “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking.”

While Kenrick plays piano, the other three men play some mean guitar. They’re backed by Lane Sanders on drums and Murguia on bass.

Audience members who remember these hits will probably be tempted to sing or hum along. The younger set will undoubtedly be enthralled by the songs’ sheer energy and power. All will likely tap their toes to the infectious rhythms.

Director and music director Alicia Jeffrey keeps everything moving smoothly. She’s aided by Kelly James Tighe’s set, Aaron Spivey’s lighting, Karina Chavarin’s costumes and Jon Hayward’s sound.

“Million Dollar Quartet” will continue through June 24 at the Fox Theater, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City.

For tickets and information, call (650) 579-5565 or visit www.broadwaybythebay.org.

 

About the Author

Judy RichterJudy reviews San Francisco Bay Area theater and writes feature articles about activities of the Stanford women's basketball team and Fast Break Club. A longtime Bay Area journalist, she is retired from the San Francisco Chronicle, where she was a writer and copy editor.View all posts by Judy Richter →