Belfast Telegraph

Review: Elvis and friends star in Million Dollar Quartet at Belfast's Grand Opera House

By Jackie Bell

Million Dollar Quartet is a musical set around an impromptu jam session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis - so expect to be dancing in your seat within minutes.

Rock and roll history was made on December 4, 1956 when the four musicians gathered at the behest of Sam Phillips at the Sun Records' studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

At the time Elvis was a superstar, Johnny was quietly following in his footsteps, Carl had tasted fame but hadn't quite found his next hit and Jerry Lee was taking his first enthusiastic steps to becoming the next big thing - but they all had one thing in common, Sam.

Jason Donovan brings the music producer's charisma to life on stage and is the biggest presence within the show, no doubt helped by the fact that Sam himself was a larger than life character with a typical Southern drawl and easy laugh.

While the musical doesn't have so much a storyline as a selection of moments punctuated by iconic songs, it's Sam who is used to steer the story along whether it be through flashbacks of first meetings or inner monologues regarding the uncertain future of rock and roll.

But at the heart of Million Dollar Quartet is the music - and this is where the show excels.

Ross William Wild takes on the role of the mild-mannered Elvis, and effortlessly emulates the star's voice, mannerisms and moves. Robbie Durham plays a humble Johnny Cash who is the most softly spoken of the quartet as he battles the politics of record contracts and loyalty in the music business.

Meanwhile, Matthew Wycliffe as Carl Perkins and Ashley Carruthers as Jerry Lee Lewis represent the differing perspectives of being a musician. An energetic and cocky Jerry Lee is desperate to get out there and make it big, while Carl is struggling to get a full grasp of success while those around him soar.

The iconic stars are portrayed with ease by the young cast, while all the actors sing and play their instruments live throughout the show - and that in itself is truly remarkable to watch.

The hits are rolled out one by one with I Walk the Line, Hound Dog, Blue Suede Shoes, See You Later Alligator, Fever, Great Balls of Fire, and Peace in the Valley among the many, many highlights.

Audiences will come for the songs but they will be blown away by the performances, and no doubt be on their feet by the end of this iconic tale.

  • Million Dollar Quartet runs at the Grand Opera House in Belfast until Saturday, April 29.

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