It’s a wonder they don’t bring the house down. It rocks. It rolls. But it remains intact while four actors/singers/instrumentalists personify Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley as if there were no tomorrow. There’s only now. They wail. They stomp. They leap. They swing. They soar. They sing. They play. They come together as the Million Dollar Quartet, in Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux’s stage version of a Memphis encounter of these four legendary young artists as their careers were beginning to light up the skies.
Yeah, there’s some kind of story goin’ on. Sort of. See, Sun Records’ Sam Phillips had been hankering to turn out more hits. And he’s just got explain how he got where he’d been and how he connected with these four guys who collectively turn up one night together in his studio in the onliest time they assemble and do their special things.
He sometimes narrates pieces of history. Harking back to that night when, first, young and sassy newcomer Jerry Lee Lewis arrives, seeking a career, totally assured of his own talent. Perkins starts hanging around. So does Cash, almost by coincidence. Then RCA Records star Elvis comes into the house. The former Sun Records singer/guitarist decided to drop by and visit Sam. Before you know it, all four are matching up to sing the good old songs they know and love. The good old songs you know and love. Ain’t that right?
John Countyman’s take on Jerry Lee remains a bundle of non-stop energy, his hands, his fingers, his feet, his voice insisting on being seen, insisting on being heard. As Perkins, Lee Ferris makes guitar magic, but never pushes his presence too far. Integrity. Cash’s solid low register gets its due, it overtones, its undertones from Scott Moreau. In this version of Elvis, Cody Ray Slaughter nails all the moves, catches the characteristic catches in the voice while always conveying an underlying, gentle sweetness, never strutting like a self-impressed celeb. Add to them singer Kelly Lamont portraying a friend of Elvis who gets a couple of her own numbers, delivered with sass, but never too much. Dig Patrick Morrow’s tasty punctuations on the drum set. Marvel as Corey Kaiser slaps and twirls that bass. And straight man, Sam Phillips, gets his dues paid convincingly by Vince Nappo.
There are 24 songs. Some of them burst out just when you think it’s time to hit the road. Wait for it. New costumes wrap the stars into new songs before the whole shebang wraps up.
That’s all right, baby, every way they do.
Million Dollar Quartet continues through February 2 3 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. , Omaha. Friday: 8 p.m. Saturday: 2 & 8 p.m. Sunday: 1:30 & 7 p.m. Tickets: $30-$90. http://www.omahaperformingarts.org