Love Rock and Roll? Check out “Million Dollar Quartet” in Portland this week!

Last night, Steven and I went to go see the musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” I went in to the show not knowing what to expect, but I surprisingly thought it was a lot of fun!

It wasn’t the best show I have seen, but if you love old time rock and roll, this show was made for you!

Playing at Portland’s Keller Auditorium until May 27, “Million Dollar Quartet” centers on four of rock and roll’s royalty. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins come to life in this show, which is more concert then anything else.

The show is about an actual event on December 4, 1956, where an impromptu jam session happened between the four stars at Sun Record Studios in Memphis. Known then on as the Million Dollar Quartet, the day has gone down in rock and roll history.

courtesy of Chicago Stage Review

“Million Dollar Quartet” is a very simple show. A lot of old time rock and roll music, very little dialogue. The entire show is set in the recording studio, with a gorgeous set that seemingly transplants you back to sound booths and the upright bass. Between songs, there would be some banter between the singers as well as with the narrator of the show, Sam Phillips, who is the founder of Sun Records and the man who discovered all four singers and brought them to fame. Sam gives background to the singers, how they were discovered, and information about their hit songs.

It’s like being a fly on the wall of rock and roll history. I really enjoyed it!

The actors are phenomenal in this show! They are all so musically talented and really captured each of the singers they were playing. I am in awe of their impersonations and their energy throughout the show! They also played all of their own instruments, super cool.

My favorite had to be Jerry Lee Lewis, played by Martin Kaye. He was hilarious and really entertaining to watch. His character was definitely the comedic, crazy role, and he fit it just perfectly. His rendition of “Great Balls of Fire” was on point, I loved every second of it.

courtesy of

Song highlights include: That’s All Right, Folsom Prison Blues, Riders in the Sky, See You Later Alligator.

Although I had a lot of fun and am happy we went, this show was nothing like I expected it to be. If you are coming to see a typical musical, this isn’t for you. It is a big, glamorized 1950’s rock and roll concert, with some blues and gospel songs thrown in. It’s fun and really entertaining, but it’s also tiring. Especially if you don’t know more then half of the songs (guilty as charged).

Also, if you don’t know any of the singers, you should read up on them and their music. The show does give you some information, but some jokes were totally lost on us. And reading about that day is really interesting.

During the show, I did have a little emotional moment (anyone surprised?!) during the show. The group stopped playing a song so Sam could take their photo. With a giant flash, the lights of the house go out and the real photo of the million dollar quarter is projected on the stage, along with a real recording of one of the songs. It was a sweet, touching moment and real tribute to four of rock and roll’s royalty.

Circa 1956
courtesy of Sun Records

All in all, it was a great show. The actors are really, really talented and they somehow captured an era where music was really coming alive.

Fun Fact: A guy that graduated with Karen is the understudy for Carl Perkins. Epic.


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