Musical review: Million Dollar Quartet
Sam Phillips was destined for a career in law when his father died and he took up music production in Memphis to help his mother make ends meet.
Sun Studios, his brainchild then went on to be the breeding ground for Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.
Elvis walked into Sun Studios to cut a record for his mother Gladys’s birthday –and the rest, as they say, is musical history.
Martin Kemp whose range includes eighties pop band Spandau Ballet and Eastenders to the acclaimed movie The Krays, plays Phillips to perfection. He is ably supported by a gifted ensemble cast who bring these musical icons to life.
The suitably atmospheric set centres around Sun Studios and the control booth where Phillips witnesses musical history being made. Writers Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux know their rock ‘n’ roll history.
Johnny Cash signed with Sun in 1955 and Robbie Durham, who has a brilliant pedigree in theatre including Billy Elliot and Dreamboats and Petticoats, brings Cash to life with a brilliant baritone that reminds the audience of the film Walk the Line.
Jerry Lee Lewis played by Martin Kaye is a comedy foil in this production with lots of cracks made about his predilections for young women and multiple marriages.
There’s a finale which gets everyone hand-clapping, singing and on their feet, and Kaye milks it when he spots a woman in the audience who loves to dance.
It’s a fun show with moments of poignancy too. Phillips sees all his acts leaving him to go on to bigger and better things. But Jerry Lee stays. Phillips comments that he has just signed a strange guy with a strange name – Roy Orbison.
This is a show that taps into a particular era and it’s a winner brimming with talent. Wonderful entertainment.
Million Dollar Quartet – Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 28 October.