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TRAVEL & ENTERTAINMENT: There’s a ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On’ with Center Repertory Company’s “Million Dollar Quartet”

Sep 11, 2017
by Jan Miller
Center Repertory Company’s production of “Million Dollar Quartet,” currently playing through October 6 at the Lesher Theater for the Arts (1601 Civic Drive) in Walnut Creek, CA., is the ultimate jukebox musical, featuring a cast of four terrific actor-musicians playing a bumper crop of 1950s hit songs and providing more energy than a idling hot rod. This quartet, along with Brittany Daniell who portrays Presley’s girlfriend, goes way beyond impersonation.

Carl Perkins, the 'King of Rockabilly,' superbly played by John Michael Presney, plays the guitar while at the same time singing in Perkins’ hillbilly twang, keeping one leg planted on the floor while shooting the other out in every manner imaginable.

Elvis Presley, played by Trent Rowland, shows off his gyrations and leg vibrations perfectly.

Johnny Cash, played to a deep-voice perfection by Sky Seals, is perhaps the most convincing of the four, not just because of his perfect tone, but also because of his mannerisms. If you close your eyes you almost feel as if Johnny Cash himself is performing on stage.

Last, but certainly not least, a young, up-and-coming Jerry Lee Lewis, played by Sean McGibbon, is the most wired of the group, jiggling and moving, even leaping over the bench onto the piano, playing the keys backward as he tears into such songs as “Real Wild Child” and “Great Balls of Fire.”

“Million Dollar Quartet” takes its inspirations from a real one night-incident. On December 4, 1956, these four founding fathers of rock and roll, had an impromptu musical jam session at Sun Studios in Memphis, the very place where each of these four legends’ careers began. “Million Dollar Quartet” then uses this event as the background to perform a medley of some of the greatest hits ever, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “That’s All Right, Mama,” “Hound Dog,” etc. Producer Sam Phillips (played by Michael Ray Wisely) had the smarts to record it, and a local reporter who was called and sat in on the session headlined his newspaper article, which ran the next day, “Million Dollar Quartet.”

When the four take the stage to take their final bow, the audience rises to the occasion to give a standing ovation. These four “legends” then belt out four more numbers while the audience remains standing, shaking, and dancing throughout the finale with untold enthusuam. What a great ending to a great evening of rock and roll! It’s definitely worth seeing again.

For tickets or more information on the must-see production of “Million Dollar Quartet” please phone (925) 943-7469 or visit www.CenterREP.org.

* * * * *

Carl Perkins (John Michael Presney), Elvis Presley (Trent Rowland) and Johnny Cash (Sky Seals) rock the house in "Million Dollar Quartet."


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