Million Dollar Quartet

Musical by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. The electrifying story of the night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis came together to make music and ended up making history.

Inspired by the actual event that took place on 4 December 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions - ever. The session was organised by Sun Records' founder Sam Phillips who brought together four musicians he had discovered over the previous few years. Million Dollar Quartet is the story of that jam session - it's a story of fame, friendship, discovery, divided loyalties, professional jealousy and incredible music as four of the music industry's most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, made music together for the first and only time in their careers. Featuring over 20 classic hit songs including Blue Suede Shoes, I Walk The Line, Hound Dog and Great Balls of Fire.

2011: West End London Premiere at the Noel Coward Theatre

2016: London Revival at the Royal Festival Hall

Born in East Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) was 13 years old when he and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee. After his high school graduation, Elvis took odd jobs working as a movie theater usher and a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. A demo with the Memphis Recording Service helped to propel Presley to stardom, developing a fan following as one of the nation's first rockabilly performers. While his roots were country, Presley was equally versatile in other genres with songs that reflected gospel, blues, ballad and pop styles.

Johnny Cash (1932 - 2003) was one of the most popular country and western singers of the 20th century with a career spanning over fifty years and a repertoire of songs that included folk, gospel, blues, rockabilly, rock and roll and alternative rock. His compassion for the down trodden, the criminal, 'the ones who are held back' was reflected in his tales of crime, persecution, and redemption which he delivered in a deep, gravelly voice filled with conviction.

Carl Lee Perkins (1932 - 1998) was born in Tiptonville, Tennessee, as the son of a poor tenant farmer. Influenced by the southern gospel music that surrounded him, Perkins was playing a guitar his father made from a cigar box, broomstick and baling wire by the time he was seven years of age. Sixteen years later he would convince Sam Phillips of Sun Records to sign him. In 1956, a desperately poor and struggling Perkins wrote the song 'Blue Suede Shoes' on an old potato sack. Produced by Sam Phillips, the record was a massive hit in both the United States and England making it the first record by a Sun label artist to sell a million copies.

Born in 1935, Jerry Lee Lewis was a child prodigy on the piano and played his first nightclub engagement at the age of 13. Lewis approached all of the Nashville record companies hoping for a recording contract without luck. Nashville studios told him they could only sign him if he were to play guitar instead of the piano. After hearing about the small independent studio in Memphis that had launched the career of Elvis Presley, Lewis made the trek to Sun Records. Within a year, Lewis also known by his self-dubbed title 'The Killer', had sold more records than any artist in Sun Records history, including Elvis Presley.

In 1986, Carl Perkins returned to Sun Studios in Memphis, joining Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison on the album 'Class of '55.' The record was a tribute to their early years at Sun and, specifically, the Million Dollar Quartet jam session involving Perkins, Presley, Cash, and Lewis on 4 December 1956.


2011: West End London Premiere at the Noel Coward Theatre

Previewed 8 February 2011, Opened 28 February 2011, Closed 14 January 2012 at the Noel Coward Theatre

The cast featured Michael Malarkey as 'Elvis Presley', Derek Hagen as 'Johnny Cash', Robert Britton Lyons as 'Carl Perkins' (up to Saturday 26 March 2011), Oliver Seymour-Marsh as 'Carl Perkins' (from Monday 28 March 2011), Ben Goddard as 'Jerry Lee Lewis', Bill Ward as 'Sam Phillips', Gez Gerrard as 'Jay Perkins', Adam Riley as 'Fluke', and Francesca Jackson as 'Dyanne'.

Directed by Eric Schaeffer, with sets by Derek McLane, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Howell Binkley, and sound by Kai Harada.

Eric Schaeffer's West End credits include the John Dempsey and Dana Rowe musical The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2000, transferred to Prince of Wales Theatre in 2001.

"The whole thing throbs with music. Each of the main quartet not only act, sing and play but do a fine job of impersonating, at least vocally, their famous counterparts. Derek Hagen is impossibly deep-voiced as Cash while Ben Goddard is suitably anarchic as Jerry Lee. Michael Malarkey, meanwhile, is a respectful young bequiffed Elvis who is regarded with some resentment by Robert Britton Lyons's Perkins (Elvis rerecorded Perkins's Blue Suede Shoes to much bigger acclaim). It seems a bit churlish to say they fall short of the originals when you're talking about such greats. Certainly, the musical is thin on story but what the narrative does do is highlight the role of the manager Sam Phillips who rather poignantly finds his discoveries are all moving on to bigger, brighter record companies where their talent probably wouldn't have been realised in the first place." The Daily Express

"The dynamic between brazen hot shot Lewis (Ben Goddard) and sulky Perkins (Robert Britten Lyons) particularly impresses, though Gez Gerrard and Adam Riley also form, a peppy rhythm section. Michael Malarkey's Elvis seems relatively subdued, while Derek Hagen plays an earnest black-clad Cash. The big hits are belted out and there are some unexpected smashes too... Million Dollar Quartet's history/fantasy isn't entirely rewarding, though. The plot, pivoting on record contract renewals, can't sustain dramatic tension between the tunes. And the 'glitzy' finale makes the fantastic four look weirdly like Showaddywaddy. By this point, it's the cast's excellent musical chops that elevate this above a flat-pack rock'n'roll revue." The London Metro

"Ben Goddard's Jerry Lee Lewis is a cocky, pouting cherub who detonates Great Balls Of Fire from his feverish fingers. Michael Malarkey is a surprisingly diffident Elvis who turns up with his girlfriend Dyanne to sing Fever and I Hear You Knocking. Shut your eyes and a wonderfully gravelly Derek Hagen really might be Johnny Cash. In the high-voltage encore, the boys don spangled tuxedos and the audience parties, dancing to later numbers including Hound Dog, Riders In the Sky and See You Later Alligator. Formulaic but fun if you like that sort of thing." The Mail on Sunday

Million Dollar Quartet in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 8 February 2011, opened on 28 February 2011, and closed on 14 January 2012.


2016: London Revival at the Royal Festival Hall

Opened 17 December 2016 (no previews), Closed 2 January 2017 at the Royal Festival Hall

A major revival of the rock'n'roll musical Million Dollar Quartet in London starring Martin Kemp for a strictly limited run of just 24 performances

The cast featured Ross William Wild as 'Elvis Presley', Robbie Durham as 'Johnny Cash', Matt Wycliffe as 'Carl Perkins', Martin Kaye as 'Jerry Lee Lewis', Martin Kemp as 'Sam Phillips', and Katie Ray as 'Dyanne'.

Directed by Ian Talbot with designs by David Farley and lighting by David Howe.

Ian Talbot's London directing credits include the musicals Lend Me A Tenor at the Gielgud Theatre in 2011; High Society at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2005; The Boyfriend at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park 2006 and 2007; and Paint Your Wagon at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park 1996.

Million Dollar Quartet in London at the Royal Festival Hall opened on 17 December 2016, and closed on 2 January 2017