A whole lotta shakin' was goin' on at Sagebrush Theatre Saturday night. Million Dollar Quartet launched Western Canada Theatre's main stage productions for the season and, quite simply, it was a blast. In the days since taking in the show, I have gone out of my way to recommend it to others.
Here's my bias: I sometimes find musicals corny. For me, it's a fine line when characters hijack a scene to break out in song.
This was different -- more like interjections of mini-rock concerts. Story, story, story, rock show. Story, story, story, rock show. But less abrupt because the music weaved into the storyline.
The narrative was interesting for music lovers who may not know some of the history behind rock 'n' roll legends Johnny Cash (played by Maxwell Theodore Lebeuf), Elvis Presley (Matt Cage), Jerry Lee Lewis (Elliott Loran) and Carl Perkins (Edward Murphy). Their humble beginnings were born at a small record company, Sun Records, where Million Dollar Quartet is set.
One interesting tidbit I took away was that Perkins wrote Blue Suede Shoes. The song became synonymous with Presley after he performed it on national television -- a point of contention between Perkins and Sun Records owner and producer Sam Phillips that is raised in the play.
The story was interesting and it was neat to take a trip back in time to watch the legends perform together on stage.
While all the actors picked up nuances in the way their respective rock 'n' roll stars talked, moved and performed, one stood out: Loran. It will be hard for me to separate in my mind Loran from Jerry Lee Lewis. In portraying the man behind Great Balls of Fire, he was a great ball of energy -- jumping on, over and off a piano and smashing his hands down on keys with a confidence comparable to Freddy Mercury performing at Wembley Stadium. Man, he can play -- and act.
We had upper-balcony seats, which were slightly removed from the action on stage. I'd recommend grabbing seats down below. Then again, you might be grateful to grab any seat in Sagebrush over the next week or so if everyone in the theatre Saturday night recommended the show to others, as I did.