Shortly before Christmas in 1956 in Memphis, Tennessee, Elvis Presley (Cody Slaughter), Johnny Cash (Derek Keeling), Carl Perkins (Lee Ferris) and Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye) are joined by Jay Perkins (Chuck Zayas), Carl’s brother,  drummer Fluke (Billy Shaffer) and Dyanne (Kelly Lamont), Elvis’s girlfriend are in the Sun studios owned by Sam Phillips (Christopher Ryan Grant) who recognized and nurtured the talent of the first three and was about to make a star of the fourth.

What Sam didn’t know was that he would be responsible for an historic, one time only, jam session by the 4 with Cash, Presley and Perkins all about to leave his recording studio for better, more lucrative contracts from Columbia and RCA Victor.

The audience listens in on 23 songs sung, danced and played by the cast, doing ‘the Devil’s music’ along with spirituals, songs that made them famous and some songs they probably never sung as most of these were not done at that session.

The drama is provided by Carl Perkins having written “Blue Suede Shoes” and his feeling that Elvis stole his moment when the latter sung it on the Ed Sullivan show. There is also the relationship between Sam and the boys with his being unaware that they won’t be going along with his plans.

All the actors are muscians who play their own instruments and sing their songs in the manner of the guys they are portraying without trying to mimic them. All stand out in their individual numbers and harmonize in the quartet numbers but it is Martin Kaye, as Lewis,  in the persona of the original, who brings the humor, sometimes laugh out loud moments to the show.

Grant brings across his affection for the boys while Lamont, the only female in the cast, does a good job on “Fever” but it is the quartet singing “Hound Dog”, “I Walk The Line”, “My Babe”, “Down By The Riverside” and the other classics that get the audience moving, especially the ‘concert’ at the end when they put on those sequined dinner jackets and get a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” going on, that gets everyone out of their seats.

The book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrex provides the lead-ins to the songs while the direction by Eric Schaeffer, based on the original by Floyd Mutrx, is fluid and gives each of the cast their moments to shine.

Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes without an intermission Strobe lights and theatre smoke/fog   Tour Dates for January: Tampa, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit in Michigan.

Coming to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami: Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away March 20-25, 2012 and Disney’s The Lion King May 15- June10, 2012

Posted January 2, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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