orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

February 14, 2014

'Million Dollar Quartet' is more than Broadway

Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — The glory days of rock ’n roll come alive once again this Valentines Day weekend at the Lutcher Theater.

The national touring production of the Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet” will be presented at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, at the Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts in Orange. Tickets are $35-$65 and can be purchased online at www.lutcher.org or by calling 409-886-5535. The first show, held on Friday night, Feb. 14, was a stellar event featuring classic hits of rock history and a large audience.

The international Tony Award-winning musical is set on Dec. 4, 1956, when legendary music figures Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered at Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tenn. at the request of owner, Sam Phillips.

Lee Ferry portrays the character of legendary musician Carl Perkins. He believes the appeal of this musical event is justified.

“There are so many things about this show that people will find appealing,” Lee said in a telephone interview. “Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash are icons in the world of music, and everyone knows their music and the songs. Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins may have been lesser players in music history, but their popularity and contributions are important. There is a nice educational aspect to this show about their roles in the events of that meeting.”

The story brings to life one of the “greatest rock ’n roll jam sessions in history” and that legendary night with a tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations. It is narrated from the point of view of Stan Phillips.

“The ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ is very different than just a tribute performance,” Lee added. “It has a story and it has a good script with so many levels of emotion. It’s way more than just a tribute concert with an artist just standing there.”

The “Million Dollar Quartet” musical is filled with classic hits of the early days of rock ’n roll, including “Ring of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog,” “That’s All Right,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Sixteen Tons” and the pivotal track, “Blue Suede Shoes.”

“The central conflict of the story surrounds the song ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and involves Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley,” Lee explained. “It’s definitely an interesting story.”

Lee, who is a college educated musician and vocalist, has always enjoyed performing live music compared to the traditional Broadway musical role.

“Broadway acting was out of the question for me,” he said. “But I love performing live music. Once I found out about this production and started doing it, it was the magic of the show which caught me.

“Audiences never get the same show twice,” Lee continued. “And it’s a great opportunity for me. I get to play a lot of styles of music, from rockabilly to blues to country music. I get to play lead guitar parts, and I get to backup the other performers. It’s the best of both worlds.”