Million Dollar Quartet


By: - Mar 04, 2024

Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins together making music. What could be better than this?

Very little.

The outstanding production of Million Dollar Quartet now at ACT-CT in Ridgefield will have you bopping in your seats.

MDQ was nominated for three Tony Awards, including best musical, in 2011. Since then it has toured; in Connecticut it has received multiple productions.

Hunter Foster, who played Sam Philips in the original Broadway cast, directs this production with a fine hand. His experience with the show reveals itself in the nuances and choices he makes. The scenic design by Josh Smith shows us the studio of Sun Records in Memphis in the 1950s. The founder of the studio, Phillips helped put rock ‘n roll on the charts. He found and nurtured performers from B.B. King and Ike Turner to Roy Orbison and, of course, the four characters in this show.

It’s based on an event in December 1956 when the four gathered at the studio and had an impromptu jam session. Elvis was already signed to RCA and was making movies in Hollywood. Cash was about to leave Sun Records, as was Carl Perkins, who felt he was being neglected. Jerry Lee Lewis was the brash young kid who had yet to make it. But he had confidence galore.

Over the course of the evening, the four (and Elvis’ date, Dyanne), talk, joke and sing the songs we all know.  It wasn’t until I saw my first production of MDQ that I learned Carl Perkins had made a hit of “Blue Suede Shoes.” Elvis sang it on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” and then it became tied to him.

The songs range from the favorites – “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Memories Are Made of This,” “I walk the Line,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Hound Dog,” to name just a few – to some gospel and some popular hits. Dyanne sings “Fever,” a song associated with Peggy Lee.

The show has been so popular that a coterie of actors have made a living moving from production to production. This production is no different; each of the four main characters has performed the role multiple times.

You might think that Elvis or perhaps Johnny Cash is the central character. It really is Jerry Lee Lewis. It’s the showiest role that draws your attention with his tics, swagger, energy, and piano playing. Nat Zegree, who also serves as music director, may overdo it a bit, but Lewis’ brashness and confidence are surprisingly endearing. Plus, he manages to play the piano with his hands behind his back, sitting on top of it, and more.

Alessandro Gian Vivano makes a fine Elvis, capturing the Elvis sound and moves. Scott Moreau is good as Johnny Cash. Christopher Wren imbues Carl Perkins with sadness; after all, he has become a footnote to the music world and an afterthought to Perkins. Megan Reinking makes the most of the undeveloped role of Dyanne. We know little about her and her relationship with Elvis. Bart Shatto is fine as studio owner Phillips.  The performers are the musicians, backed up by Brother Jay and Fluke on bass and drums.

You will have a good time at Million Dollar Quarter. Visit