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‘Million Dollar Quartet’ pure gold at Marriott

Headliners in “Million Dollar Quartet” are (from left) Christopher Essex as Johnny Cash; Nat Whitley as Carl Perkins; Rustin Cole Sailors as Elvis Presley, and Nat Zegree as Jerry Lee Lewis.
Headliners in “Million Dollar Quartet” are (from left) Christopher Essex as Johnny Cash; Nat Whitley as Carl Perkins; Rustin Cole Sailors as Elvis Presley, and Nat Zegree as Jerry Lee Lewis.

LINCOLNSHIRE – Marriott Theatre’s impressive production of “Million Dollar Quartet” salutes rock ‘n’ roll pioneers Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Inspired by a true story, “Quartet” captures the bright young singers/musicians on the brink of being “discovered” by major recording studios. The talented performers have gathered on Dec. 4,1956, for a one-time jam session at Sun Records, a tiny, ambitious venue in Memphis run by promoter Sam Phillips (played by David Folsom). Phillips also serves as narrator.

Audiences are treated to such lively songs as “Sixteen Tons” and “Rider in the Sky” by Christopher J. Essex as the deep-voiced Johnny Cash; “Hound Dog” and “That’s All Right” by Rustin Cole Sailors” as an understated Elvis Presley; “See You Later Alligator” by Shaw Whitley as Carl Perkins; and “Real Wild” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by Nat Zegree as Jerry Lee Lewis.

Zegree, channeling Jerry Lee Lewis, occasionally steals the show with his unorthodox but highly entertaining antics on the piano.

Providing support are Laura Savage as Dyanne (“Forever”), bassist Zach Lentino as Brother Jay and whiz-bang drummer Kieran McCabe as Fluke.

The smart cast guided by director James Moye and music director Ryan T. Nelson delivers a performance rich in verisimilitude.

Credit Jeffrey D. Kmiec for a cleverly designed set that delineates the shared space: an auto repair shop seen offstage and the Sun Records studio with its musicians occupying the theater’s in-the-round space.

Jesse Klug’s lighting design deftly signals the shift from the present to the past. Miguel A. Armstrong handles hair and makeup design and Theresa Ham takes care of costumes.

“Million Dollar Quartet” made its Broadway debut in 2010, and it had a combined eight-year run in Chicago at Goodman Theatre followed by Apollo Theater. Last year Paramount Theatre in Aurora staged a well-received production of the musical.

The show runs about 90 minutes and it’s presented without an intermission.

If you go

What: “Million Dollar Quartet”

Where: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

When: Through March 16

Tickets: $50-$60

Info: 847-6234-0200 or www.marriotttheatre.com

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