MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET ROCKS OGUNQUIT PLAYHOUSE

MDQ1MDQ2August 2015

Great Balls of Fire! Ogunquit Playhouse presents the Tony Award-winning musical MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET in superb vintage Americana splendor. Yes, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on at 10 Main Street in Ogunquit with live electrifying performances by Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, and Mainers and Tourists have until September 19th to experience this high voltage rock ‘n roll sensation.

It’s like going back in time and being a fly on the wall in a room where four talented young musicians are jamming and chatting, clueless that their impromptu gathering is a prophetic milestone event and totally unaware that their impending success and fame will influence the music industry forever.

Elvis Presley died August 16, 1977. Carl Perkins died January 19, 1998. Johnny Cash died September 12, 2003. Jerry Lee Lewis will be 80 next month. But on December 4, 1956, these four legendary pioneers crossed paths at the nexus of their creative worlds—Sun Record Studios, 706 Union Street in Memphis.

On that fateful day, Sun Records Owner and Producer Sam Phillips scheduled a session for Carl Perkins to cut some new material following his “Blue Suede Shoes” hit. He called in a relatively unknown piano player named Jerry Lee Lewis to accompany Perkins (even though piano wasn’t considered a rock instrument at the time). Elvis Presley, whose contract with Sun was sold to RCA Victor by Phillips a few months prior, dropped in for an unannounced visit. And later that day, Johnny Cash, Sun’s most consistently best-selling artist at that time, also popped in.

The music, energy, conversation and camaraderie flowed. Thankfully, Sound Engineer Jack Clement thought to hit the record button to capture the 46 songs that this “Million Dollar Quartet” was putting out—old favorites, originals, familiar gospel songs.

That real-life event inspired Music Historian and Writer Colin Escott and Film Writer and Producer Floyd Mutrux to create a book and fictional stage version of what transpired that night, compressing events that had occurred over 18 months into one powerful jam session. Since its debut in 2006, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET has enjoyed runs on Broadway, London’s West End, and a U.S. National Tour. Ogunquit Playhouse is thrilled to be the first regional theatre in the country to produce the show.

No doubt the legendary icons depicted in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET get the homage and tribute they so righteously deserve, but make no mistake about it: This cast is divinely blessed with talent and appropriately steals the show. This real life quartet is as equally skilled and entertaining as their legendary counterparts, all monster musicians in their own right:

Robert Britton Lyons stars as the Father of Rockabilly Carl Perkins and is also Musical Supervisor for this production. He originated his role and has been with the show on Broadway, in London and Las Vegas. Lyons also writes, records and performs his own originals and recently released his first full-length album, “When It Haunts You” (available on iTunes).

Maine’s own Scott Moreau (from Litchfield) makes his Ogunquit debut, reprising his role of Johnny Cash from the first national tour. Scott has many touring and regional theater credits, including Arundel Barn Playhouse (Bill Sykes in Oliver) and Maine State Music Theatre (Dan in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). He recently released a Johnny Cash tribute album, recorded at Sun Studio. (http://www.ScottMoreau.com …and happy 40th to his folks, Leonard and Donna).

Nat Zegree also makes his Ogunquit debut as the outrageously talented Jerry Lee Lewis. He hails from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and recently moved to New York City where he performs regularly. Nat has been playing piano since the age of three, and is also a songwriter and composer, currently working on his debut album, “Fly More Than You Fall” (congrats on the kickstarter success). He is also penning an upcoming original musical The King’s Critique with co-writer Eric Holmes.

Jacob Rowley first played the role of Elvis Presley in the national tour of Million Dollar Quartet at the age of 19. With an uncanny resemblance to a young Elvis, the Texas native has been nicknamed “The New Teen King” and has been in high demand for acting roles and concerts in tribute to the King of Rock ‘n Roll. In addition to future theater, television and film work, the singer-songwriter-musician-actor will be launching his recording career in 2016 (http://www.JakeRowleyLive.com).

Sam Phillips, the Father of Rock ‘n Roll, is played by Jason Loughlin who comes to the Playhouse from North Carolina bringing many regional and Broadway credits. He is wonderful at threading the story and engaging the audience in his behind-the-scenes, behind-his-mind, decisions.

Bligh Voth plays Dyanne, Elvis’ girlfriend. She hails from Washington, DC, via Boston Conservatory, and now lives in NYC. She also brings an impressive list of performing credits (http://www.BlighVoth.com).

Rounding out the cast are two superior musicians that play the vintage rhythm section right. Sam Weber plays stand-up bass as Carl Perkins’ brother Jay. David Sonneborn, a NYC musician marking his fourth year as an original cast member of the national tour, plays drums as Fluke. Both are tasty and sizzle.

The show is intelligently directed by Hunter Foster, who played the role of Sam Phillips in the Broadway production. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET is about “one legendary evening when all four of these great artists returned to that tiny studio, to their true home, to the place ‘where the soul of a man never dies,’” said Foster. The show also features the original Broadway set designed by Derek McLane.

With songs like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk The Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Fever,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog,” and more, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET is a must-see (not to mention all those Super-55 grill mic’s).

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET runs Tuesdays through Sundays until September 19th. FMI and reservations, contact the box office at 207-646-5511 or visit http://www.ogunquitplayhouse.org.

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–Louis Philippe

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