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The Phoenix Theatre Company Presents MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS

We’re as soon as once more delighted to welcome David Appleford as a visitor contributor to the pages of BroadwayWorld ~ as at all times, that includes his distinctive, well-balanced, and clever perspective on theatre. On this case, he shines the sunshine on The Phoenix Theatre Company’s manufacturing of MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS.

Till his latest retirement, David was a beloved and extremely esteemed presence within the performing arts scene, reporting on movies and theatre at radio and TV stations across the nation for greater than thirty-five years and internet hosting his extremely common web site, Valley Display and Stage. Along with his eager sense of historical past and acute understanding of the world of theatre, his perceptive opinions set a typical for all of us.

Right here now ~ From the keyboard of the inimitable David Appleford:

It was a Memphis auto-parts retailer. Then it was transformed right into a recording studio for Solar Information. And it was there, on December 4, 1956, the place it occurred; by likelihood, 4 rock ‘n roll legends met and jammed into the night. These 4 had been Carl Perkins, Johnny Money, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

It wasn’t deliberate. It simply occurred, and file producer and impresario Sam Phillips has the tapes to show it. There was hypothesis questioning whether or not Johnny Money ever hung round lengthy sufficient to play with the opposite three that afternoon. The singer insisted he did, and if the person in black says he was there, that is adequate for me.

The occasions of December 4 grew to become the idea for what finally developed into the 2010 Broadway jukebox musical, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, a present whose domestically regional manufacturing was staged to nice success and acclaim by The Phoenix Theatre Company in March 2018. Now, three years later, comes the sequel, a jukebox musical that picks up at virtually the second the place the unique left off, solely this time there is a distinction.

Along with the traditional fifties chart-toppers of the day, the rock ‘n roll performed this time round leans closely in the direction of the yuletide season by which the impromptu jamming session occurred. And identical to the unique Phoenix 2018 manufacturing, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS is a real rock ‘n roll musical theatre thrill trip.

Working now all through the vacation season till January 2 on the Phoenix Theatre Company’s Mainstage Theatre, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS, written by Colin Escott, co-writer of the unique manufacturing, differs considerably in fashion from the unique. Not like the earlier manufacturing the place the narration was delivered by Sam Phillips (Kyle Sorrell, returning to the function he performed within the 2018 manufacturing and searching as if he is nonetheless having a ball), right here every principal participant has their second the place the fourth wall is damaged they usually join instantly with the viewers, starting with Elvis’s date on the time, Dyanne (Amanda Valenzuela).

“There is no doubt who runs the present,” Dyanne observes, referring to producer Sam Phillips. She could also be within the firm of 4 musical greats, however it was simple for her to see that it was Sam who was in cost. When the 4 musicians start to jam to a reasonably paced model of Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Round The Christmas Tree, Sam punches the air and orders, “Make it sound like a Solar File!”

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS breaks no new inventive theatrical grounds or boundaries, plus author Escott’s scant e book presents little battle or emotional hurdles for gamers to beat. Elvis (Daniel Durston) might lament over his oncoming selective responsibility orders for the army, stating, “I want they’d choose another person.” And Sam Phillips expresses clear annoyance with shedding his boy Elvis to Colonel Tom Parker. “If he is a colonel, I am a normal’s daughter,” Sam declares. However battle and overcoming hurdles shouldn’t be what the present is about. It is in regards to the music, the enjoying, the singing, and the jamming, all with a Christmas aptitude; and it is right here the place the present actually delivers.

Starting in wonderful rock ‘n roll type with Residence For The Holidays, for the next ninety minutes, every of the 4 soon-to-be legends burst into high-energy efficiency mode, both singing solo or supporting one another with a string of acquainted mainstream and seasonal hits of the day, culminating with a grand finale megamix of Christmas rock.

Backed by Nathan Yates Douglass on bass and Chris Cerreto on drums, and beneath musical director Chuck Mead and affiliate musical director Jonny Baird’s musical supervision, director Scott Weinstein, who additionally directed the earlier 2018 Phoenix manufacturing, levels his musical performances as if we’re watching not a lot a jamming session in a studio however a full-blown, dwell live performance.

Carried out in a brand new, beautifully designed set of the Solar Information studio by a New York Metropolis-based scenic design firm known as merely Dots, and trimmed for Christmas, as soon as the music begins, Ryan O’Gara’s lighting design bursts into motion with as a lot visible pleasure because the music itself. And as with the unique manufacturing, the true energy of this sequel is the forged; wonderful musician/performers who handle to recreate particular components of their real-life counterparts in a approach that the majority of us (of a sure age) will instantly acknowledge.

Gregg Hammer’s Johnny Money is a strong, stoic determine; Sam Sherwood injects a continuous playful exuberance to his Carl Perkins, with guitar licks that may’t assist however steal the present; JP Coletta holds nothing again as a younger, cocksure Jerry Lee Lewis whose piano enjoying fashion is to fearlessly assault these keys as if his fingers had been hammers; and in case you catch Daniel Durston’s younger Elvis Presley on the proper angle beneath the proper mild, you’d swear you’ve got simply seen a dead-ringer for the king himself. Plus, Amanda Valenzuela’s Dyanne not solely backs and harmonizes with the fellows however leads on what could be the most pleasant model of Mele Kalikimaka you are ever more likely to hear.

Million Greenback Quartet Christmas is a world premiere. Upon completion, the present will finally tour, however it’s right here, in Phoenix, the place Valley audiences get to be the primary to expertise this model new, massively entertaining, seasonally-flavored, high-energy manufacturing. It is The Phoenix Theatre Company’s present for the season, and the excellent news is that the package deal, as soon as opened, seems to be one thing fairly particular.

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET CHRISTMAS runs via January 2nd at The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Mainstage Theatre.

Photograph credit score to Reg Madison Images: L to R: Daniel Durston as Elvis Presley, Sam Sherwood as Carl Perkins, Gregg Hammer as Johnny Money, and JP Coletta as Jerry Lee Lewis

The Phoenix Theatre Company ~ 1825 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ ~ https://www.phoenixtheatre.com/ ~ 602-254-2151

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