Tony Award-winning Broadway musical revives the music of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in electrifying production Jan. 20-Feb. 18
CINCINNATI — The Tony Award-winning MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET will take Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park audiences on an exciting step back in time beginning Jan. 20, 2018, where they can relive the impromptu jam sessions of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley. The electrifying musical will run through Feb. 18 in the Playhouse’s Marx Theatre.
For fans of music, the show brings to life some of the 20th century’s most beloved musicians and includes performances of “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Walk the Line, “Great Balls of Fire” and “Hound Dog.” For newcomers, the powerhouse production will introduce audiences to some of the best music in modern history that likely inspired their favorites as well.
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET not only relives a historical evening of music but also provides a snapshot of the profound moment in time that rock ‘n’ roll became a cultural force to be reckoned with,” explained Blake Robison, artistic director of the Playhouse. “Most of the audience members know what icons these musicians would become, but their characters don’t. It’s fun to imagine them at the beginning of it all and to examine their relationships with each other.
The musical, which Chicago Sun-Times called “a breakneck hour and 45 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll heaven,” earned three Tony Award nominations, including one for best musical, during its Broadway run. It’s based on the true events that occurred on Dec. 4, 1956, when the artists discovered by Sam Phillips, known as the “grandfather of rock and roll,” spent a serendipitous evening together in the recording studio of Sun Records.
On that fateful night, Carl Perkins was scheduled for a recording session, an attempt to follow up his blockbuster single “Blue Suede Shoes,” which that spring had become Sun Records’ first national hit and certified million-seller. Accompanying Perkins on the piano was a relative unknown named Jerry Lee Lewis, whose own tune “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” would be released just a few weeks later. Johnny Cash was good friends with Carl Perkins, so he stopped by to lend support to the session. Earlier that year, he leapt into the national spotlight with “I Walk the Line,” his first crossover success after country hits such as “Folsom Prison Blues.”
The last to arrive that day was the biggest star in the group, Elvis Presley, back in Memphis after a brief stint in Vegas. For Presley, 1956 was the year he, too, became a household name, thanks to three number one songs, no less than 11 national television appearances and the release of his debut feature film, Love Me Tender.
“When Sam Phillips discovered these artists and then when he was doing all these recordings, it’s sort of like the beginning of rock ‘n’ roll,” said Hunter Foster, the show’s director, in an interview with Hollywood Soapbox. “Carl Perkins influenced the Beatles, and Jerry Lee Lewis influenced Elton John. And Elvis obviously influenced a host of artists all the way to Michael Jackson. … You really see the origin, almost like ground zero, of the music that we know today. There really wasn’t that much of that kind of stuff before it, and Sam really created something. They call him the father of rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s really true.”
Hunter Foster, who created the role of music producer and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips in the original Broadway run, will direct the Playhouse’s production. Foster launched to theatre stardom as an actor in Urinetown The Musical. He also has appeared on Broadway in The Bridges of Madison County, Hands on a Hardbody, The Producers, Footloose and Little Shop of Horrors,for which he earned a Tony Award nomination. As a writer, he penned a stage adaptation of the movie Clue, as well as the books for two off-Broadway musicals: Jasper in Deadland and Summer of ’42.
Beyond the music, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET examines the relationships between the performers and the players behind the scenes. Industry politics prompt everyone to evaluate their friendships, loyalty and ambition.
Tasting Series: Three-Course Bourbon Experience
Part of our on-going tasting series, a three-course bourbon tasting will be offered before each Friday evening performance of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET and is priced at $35 per person, and does not include a ticket to the show.
Playhouse Perspectives: Hunter Foster
Saturday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m., at the Playhouse
A conversation with the director of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, Tony Award-nominated Broadway star Hunter Foster. With years of experience with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET on his resume, Foster will provide an in-depth perspective of the production. Learn how he keeps the show fresh, why he continues to return to this musical and more about his seasoned career in theatre. All Playhouse Perspective Events are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please call the Box Office at 513-421-3888 to reserve your spot.
Lyric Writing Workshop
Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. – noon, at the Playhouse
Channel your inner Carl Perkins, the first poet of rock ‘n’ roll. Discover how to tell your story through song by focusing on the words themselves. Registration is $50, and can be completed at cincyplay.com/learn or by calling the Box Office at 513-421-3888.
Prices for MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET start at $35 depending on seat selection and performance day. Tickets for children and teens are $30 or $45 based on seating location. Prices subject to change. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show. Plus, Sunday is College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. performances just $10. In addition to calling the Box Office at 513-421-3888, tickets can also be purchased by visiting the Playhouse website at www.cincyplay.com.
The Playhouse is fully accessible. Large print programs and hearing enhancement receivers are available upon request.
Call 513-421-3888 or 800-582-3208 toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana; or 513-345-2248 – TDD access (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf).
The Robert S. Marx Theatre Season is presented by Schueler Group. Season Design Sponsor is Macy’s. Honorary Co-Producer is Linda and Gary Greenberg. Design Sponsor is John and Jennifer Stein. Artist Sponsor is Janney Montgomery Scott.
The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation.
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