‘Million Dollar Quartet’ Revisits Roots of Rock ‘N’ Roll at Wick Revival

Hey, all you rock ‘n’ roll buffs, devotees of music styles that flourished in the 1950s; aficionados of local theater and all you folks who are known to frequent the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton on a regular basis. Get ready to have your socks blown through the back doors by a powerhouse musical that will revive your memory nodules and push your melodic reminiscences to their limits. 

Inspired by a true story drawn from the annals of tune-filled history, the jukebox musical, Million Dollar Quartet, has taken over the stage at Marilynn Wick’s glamorized and musicalized performance venue on North Federal Highway in Boca’s north end. 

MDQ recounts the once-in-a-lifetime blockbuster recording session arranged by music producer and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips (Paul Louis), a session which brought together budding rock ‘n’ roll legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for a rock combo. Originally intended as a pop stop for Perkins alone, it became a full-blown recording session.

Dec. 4, 1956, marked a musical milestone as the four young “little knowns” gathered at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, to rock, roll, jam and cut loose with a vast array of musical styles, from gospel to soul, rockabilly, blues and other genres. 

The stage musical Million Dollar Quartet, based on a book by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, premiered at Florida’s Seaside Music Theatre and then at Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington in 2007.The Broadway production opened at the Nederlander Theatre in 2010. It was nominated for three Tony AwardsBest MusicalBest Book of a Musical for Escott and Mutrux, and Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Levi Kreis. Kreis won, marking the show’s sole Tony win.

Cole as Elvis Presley in Million Dollar Quartet at the Wick Theater (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

The Wick Theatre has assembled a stellar musical ensemble to revive the Million Dollar Quartet on the local stage. Director Zachariah Rosenbaum has selected an all-star cast to portray the four soon-to-be-legends: Elvis “The King” Presley, Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis, Carl “The King of Rockabilly” Perkins and the “Man in Black” Johnny Cash, in this powerhouse jukebox musical. What’s truly amazing is the fact that each performer sounds exactly like the original artist.

“We went on a national search to book the best talent to capture the raw energy of rock’s royalty-to-be,” said Marilynn A. Wick, managing executive producer. “And we have truly found a solid gold cast.”

Leading the production is Lance Lipinsky from the original Million Dollar Quartet show in Chicago, portraying Jerry Lee. Having assumed “The Killer’s” keyboard-pounding, power-vocal style in more than 2,500 performances, there are few who know the original star and his rock and roll imprint.  

“The Man in Black” is  portrayed by Bill Scott Sheets who has starred as Johnny Cash in eight productions as well as the world premiere of the new MDQ installment, Million Dollar Quartet Christmas.  

The “King of Rockabilly,” Carl Perkins, is Matt McClure, who toured the country as legendary rocker Buddy Holly in 12 productions of Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story.  

And as the “King of Rock and Roll,” The Wick has selected Cole – the man with one name. He portrayed Elvis Presley for four years at Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas.  

Appearing as Elvis’s girlfriend, Dyanne, is Carbonell-winning vocalist, Mallory Newbrough who, along with Aaron Krings and Derrell Lowe, from the band, Lance Lipinsky and the Lovers, round out the cast. 

Mallory Newbrough as Diane in Million Dollar Quartet at the Wick Theater (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

And what does the audience get for its investment? Plenty of hot rocking, country flavored tunes – more than two dozen.  Jerry Lee Lewis, known for his fabulous facility on the keyboard, works the piano fiercely while Presley takes command of vocals. Other participants follow The King’s vocal momentum, but not always without objection. 

The nearly three-hour show includes dozens of 50’s favorites. The legends each get a shot at their featured solos: “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Who Do You Love?” by Perkins; “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line” by Cash; “Hound Dog” and “That’s All Right” by Elvis and “Great Balls of Fire” and “Real Wild Child” by Jerry Lee.

Dyanne adds some top-notch tunes of her own: “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking.”

Most performers join forces to flesh out the rock favorites that fill the studio – an exceptional recreation of a 1950s recording suite.

The show is music-filled, but there’s a lot of banter and chit-chat among the performers that adds humorous touches. At one point, though, it appears the session will fall apart when three of Phillips’ top stars tell him they plan to move to other record labels. Dyanne steps in with words that soothe a potential explosion – and Phillips has an ace up his sleeve that saves the day.

Bill Scott Sheets as Jonny Cash in Million Dollar Quartet at the Wick Theater (Photo by Amy Pasquantonio)

At this point, the show kicks into overdrive, with the performers blasting away with loud, raucous tunes that bring the audience to their feet for a grand finale that packs star power melodies sure to stay in your mind for a very long time.

Million Dollar Quartet has been extended through May 21 at the Wick Theater, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, with evening shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and matinees on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets ($79-$99) are available at www.thewick.org or by calling the box office at 561-995-2333.

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