"Million Dollar Quartet," now celebrating its fifth year, continues sold-out performances at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.
It's a show that is easy to see again and again. And besides also playing as a hit in New York and London, along with a national tour, it's a natural favorite in the opulent showroom of Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, where I made sure I took my parents and my sister to catch it last week while in town.
The Tony-nominated musical is of course inspired by the famed 1956 recording session that brought together legendary rock ’n' roll icons Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley.
The premise of "Million Dollar Quartet" centers around the new legendary date of Dec. 4, 1956, and an auspicious twist of fate that brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together. The place was Sun Records' storefront studio in Memphis. The man who made it happen was Sam Phillips, the "Father of Rock ’n' Roll," who discovered them all. The four legends-to-be were 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.
"Million Dollar Quartet" features a treasure trove of the greatest rock ’n' roll, gospel, rhythm and blues, and country hits from these music legends, including "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "Sixteen Tons," "Who Do You Love?" "Great Balls of Fire," "Riders in the Sky," "Whole Lotta' Shakin' Goin' On," "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line" and "Hound Dog."
"Million Dollar Quartet" is best described as "a 90-minute, family-friendly production. Audience members of all ages are invited to laugh, clap ù and even dance — during the show."
When visiting Vegas, tickets for the show are $62.50 to $86.90 at Harrah's box office at (702) 777-2782. For groups of 10 or more, call (866) 633-0195 or (702) 853-5950. FYI: MDQVegas.com
Robert Britton Lyons is particularly impressive as Carl Perkins in the Las Vegas production. Since originating the role of Carl Perkins in 2006, he has starred in every production of "Million Dollar Quartet," including Chicago, Broadway, London, off-Broadway, the national tour and now Las Vegas. He also writes and produces original music that he performs with his numerous bands. Benjamin D. Hale also does a fine tribute to Johnny Cash, as is Martin Kaye's kooky turn as Jerry Lee Lewis. And the glue that holds all of these guys together is the standout casting of Marc D. Donovan as Sam Phillips.
For the Windy City experience, tickets are $25 to $80 at the Apollo box office in Chicago or (773) 935-6100 or milliondollarquartetlive.com.
The Apollo performance schedule is 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 5 p.m. Sundays. There's a good reason this show, which has made it to a five-year anniversary in Chicago. See it, and you'll be glad you did.