Richard Lutz puts on his blue suede wellies to take in a jukebox classic at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
One day back in 1956 Memphis record producer Sam Phillips jammed Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis into a studio and watched history unfold.
They are the eponymous Million Dollar Quartet and, sixty years later, you have to have an ear of stone not to tap your foot when something by at least one of these four belts it out like a rock and roll primal scream.
The play, at the Birmingham Hippodrome, has been on the go for six years now so something must be right with it. And what’s right with it, despite its creaky narrative, is that the crew on stage is terrific.
Classics like Whole Lotta Shaking, Blue Suede Shoes, Great Balls of Fire and Who Do You Love come flaring off the stage. All the numbers are live and the main players are as good as you’d wish on a Friday night in a packed sweaty dance hall.
Standouts are Matthew Wycliffe as Carl Perkins – the angry singer eclipsed by Elvis – who plays sizzling lead guitar; Robbie Durham’s gravel voiced Johnny Cash; Martin Kaye as the barely controllable Jerry Lee Lewis (as above) slamming the guts out of his keyboard; and then there is Ross William Wild as Elvis – polite and quiet until he takes the mic and swivels those hips.
Yes, musical bio-theatre can sometimes be a bit of a jukebox roulette. And, yes, Jason Donovan as Sam Phillips, though he gets the Alabama drawl bang on, does carry a theatrical millstone around his neck keeping the pedestrian story going.
But in all, it’s a livewire exuberant night out. And that, my friends, is rock and roll.
Tickets: https://bookings.birminghamhippodrome.com Until 29th October and touring.