Million Dollar Quartet at Schuster
By Brian Sharp
What happens when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis just happen to stop by the same recording studio in 1956? Certainly nothing according to plan. Carl Perkins was there to record with a new artist named Jerry Lee Lewis. Then, Elvis Presley stopped by with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Johnny Cash was there to meet a producer. What appears to be a chance meeting turns into a jam session – talk about a Million Dollar Quartet.
“Million Dollar Quartet” takes the stage Tuesday-Sunday, June 17-22 at the Schuster Center, bringing to life this true story about four magnificent musical artists. This Tony Award-winning musical with book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux features musical supervision by Chuck Mead. This rockabilly jukebox musical is sure to please an audience of all ages.
Sam Phillips, who is said to be “The Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll” was responsible for launching the careers of these great artists. This chance meeting turned into an evening of music – known to many as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll jam sessions in history – and will be carefully brought to life on stage.
Starring in this great cast is James Barry as Carl Perkins, John Countryman playing Jerry Lee Lewis, Tyler K. Hunter as Elvis Presley and Scott Moreau playing Johnny Cash. Vince Nappo plays Sam Phillips.
This sing-along musical features such hits as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On,” “Fever,” “Hound Dog” and many many more.
I had the chance to catch up with Scott Moreau to find out more.
Moreau, who grew up in Maine, wanted to be a professional baseball player. However, his life took a different turn. A turn with no regrets! During high school, Moreau was involved in choir and community theatre. Moreau’s parents were lovers of theatre and encouraged his involvement. After high school, Moreau attended Illinois Wesley University, majoring in musical theatre. After receiving his BFA, Moreau decided to head to the Southeastern Theatre Conference, a huge cattle call of 90-second auditions – and lots of call backs. The process takes place in a hotel where thousands of actors give a 90-second audition to hundreds of theatre company executives and directors. Then the call backs begin. Finally, an offer came for summer stock with the Heritage Rep in Charlottesville, Va. After that summer, it was time to return home, but not for long. Moreau landed a holiday job playing in a touring A Christmas Carol company – that lasted five holiday seasons.
As far as Million Dollar Quartet, Moreau has always had an interest in the role of Johnny Cash.
“This is a great tribute to a great musician,” Moreau said. He heard about the national tour and hurried into New York with his guitar for the audition. After four call backs, he landed the role.
This is not the first time that Moreau has portrayed Cash – having also been involved in the production Ring of Fire.
“This is a labor of love,” Moreau said.
Moreau has been with Million Dollar Quartet for three years now.
“Some actors are built for the road,” Moreau said. “Others have a difficult time adjusting to living out of a suitcase.”
In the early years of this tour, the company was in 55 cities in two years. However, in the last year the company has already performed in 75 cities, in some instances, hitting as many as five cities in five days.
“Sometimes you don’t even unpack – you just take what you need out of the suitcase and head to the theatre,” Moreau said.
Moreau also noted people tend to be skeptical about Million Dollar Quartet, and feel these actors are simply trying to impersonate these great musicians.
“It’s not that at all,” Moreau said “We love these guys, and we love exposing a new audience to this music. There is no pit orchestra – we are the band, and we are serious about the music.”
Moreau also noted there is a huge resurgence of this era of music. There are a lot of rockabilly fans out there that are in their 20s and love this show.
The Victoria Theatre Association presents Million Dollar Quartet Tuesday, June 17 – Sunday, June 22 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. Showtimes are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For tickets please call 937.228.3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com. For more information, please visit milliondollarquartetlive.com.
Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.