SLO REP is thrilled to kick off the second half of their 2018-2019 season with “Million Dollar Quartet“, a blockbuster rock ‘n roll musical inspired by a legendary recording session that took place on December 4, 1956, when an extraordinary twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together for the first and only time at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. In this incredible musical experience, four extraordinary actor/musicians play the instruments, sing the songs and take on the characters of these four music icons. “Million Dollar Quartet” brings that legendary December night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and a score of hit songs like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Walk the Line,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog and Great Balls of Fire.” This musical set runs from Feb. 8 to Mar. 10, Wednesdays through Sundays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets range in price from $40‒$55 and are available at slorep.org or by calling (805) 786-2440.
The show’s book is written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrix from an original concept by Floyd Mutrux, inspired by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. In 1956, Carl Perkins booked a recording session on Dec. 4th with producer Sam Phillips. Along with Jerry Lee Lewis, Perkins and his band recorded a number of songs including one of Perkins’ best-known records, “Matchbox.” Perkins and Lewis were later joined by Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, and the foursome held an impromptu jam session. A newspaper wrote, “This quartet could sell a million.” The recording session retains its historical significance as a landmark event, and “Million Dollar Quartet” captures the contagious spirit, freewheeling excitement and thrilling sounds of the once-in-a-life-time moment when four icons of popular music came together.
“Million Dollar Quartet” will be directed and choreographed by Michael Jenkinson. Michael directed last season’s The All Night Strut and is well-known for his work at PCPA—Pacific Conservatory Theatre. For the biggest musical of the year, SLO REP is bringing in four incredible actors from around the country to portray these four music giants:
- Jerry Lee Lewis will be played by Jared Freiburg, an actor who has brought Lewis to life in several productions across the country. His appearance at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre inspired this review: “Freiburg… is a stunningly talented pianist…beating the upright piano on which he plays as though it owes him money, Freiburg uses hands and feet, head and tail to assault the poor instrument again and again as he pirouettes through a morass of high-energy numbers like a premier danseur.”
- Carl Perkins will be played by Christopher Wren, who is also the show’s musical director. Chris is an accomplished actor and musician, a 2008 graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City where he has lived since 2006. He is also a professionally trained saxophonist, guitarist, drummer, harmonica player, puppeteer and touring stand-up comedian.
- Elvis Presley will be played by Sam C. Jones, who has been chasing his dream of being a rockstar since he was a kid, and has no plans of stopping. While Sam is usually onstage as an actor-musician, he also found a home in Shakespeare, opera, and a singer-songwriter.
- Johnny Cash will be portrayed by an actor known only as Cole, who is the youngest artist ever inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and has spent the last year traveling around the country playing the infamous “man in black” in various regional productions of Million Dollar Quartet.
Also joining the cast will be local actor Ben Abbott, playing Sam Phillips. Ben was most recently seen onstage at the Great American Melodrama in The Holiday Extravaganza and was last seen on the SLO REP stage portraying Daddy Warbucks in Annie. The character of Dyanne will be played by Abbey Campbell, a professional actress and singer originally from Sacramento. Rounding out our “Million Dollar Band” are local musicians Evan Golhahn and James Gallardo.