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A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On at Croswell’s “Million Dollar Quartet” (Review) May 15, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Croswell Opera House, Entertainment.
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You’d be hard-pressed not to think that the Broadway tour of Million Dollar Quartet has made a stop in Adrian, MI, because this production, launching the 2016 summer season at Croswell Opera House is that terrific.

Start with the remarkable set by Doug Miller. Upon entering the theater, you’re greeted by his car-part-shop-turned-studio set, and its gorgeous. Then the lights come up and the evening is filled with one remarkable song after another, as four talented gents and one uber-talented lady enact the night in 1956 that four of rock-and-roll’s highest profile stars all gathered at Sun Studios to jam (and later, there’s a real-life photo to prove it, which brings some surprising audience tears).

Jonathan Crayne gets the night rolling as Carl Perkins. Add in Phillip Baugh as Johnny Cash. Don’t leave out John Grieco as Jerry Lee Lewis, and top it off with Lawrence Havelka as Elvis Presley. Along for the ride is Presley’s girlfriend Dyanne (Tatiana Owens). The band is rounded out by Tim Prettyman on bass, and Keith Kemner on drums. Director Eric Parker plays Sam Phillips, Sun Records owner, who serves as narrator for the evening. And for anyone who thinks acting is a glamorous job — take into consideration the remarkable talent involved in not only singing, dancing, and acting your way through a show filled with non-stop songs but to actually play the instruments yourselves live on stage. Yes, its remarkable.

What follow are 23 exciting rock-and-roll songs, and a jam-packed megamix finale that will leave you clapping, cheering, and dancing along. (Literally — Jerry Lee Lewis comes into the audience to make sure you are standing and shakin’).

It is a fine fine night indeed — while some numbers rock a bit more than others — there isn’t a dull moment in the show, and you’ll find yourself fully absorbed in one of those “birth of rock and roll” iconic moments (much like last summer’s Memphis). Watch for Grieco’s spot-on Jerry Lee Lewis back-bending theatrics before evening’s end, Johnny Cash’s sultry bass singing, Elvis’s pre-icon swagger, and Perkins straight-out rock and roll. And you’ll leave the theater having not only been enormously entertained, but also having learned a bit about the whole process of early music making.

Credit also Tiff Crutchfield’s excellent lighting; Dave Rains super work as Music Director, Betsy Lackey’s wonderful costumes, and Joe Gozdowski’s exceptional sound design. Director Eric Parker keeps everything moving swiftly and looking utterly professional from top to bottom. Choreographer Meg McNamee gives everyone character-appropriate moves.

You’ll have your favorites — from singers to songs, but you won’t leave disappointed as Million Dollar Quartet rocks the Croswell Opera House.

My only complaint is the addition of an intermission. This show is written and meant to be performed straight through (it is only 100 minutes long) and in this instance the addition of an intermission is particularly glaring as it breaks the integrity of the show when lights simply go out on stage and come up in the house. Boo.  I hope a similarly egregious intermission does not occur in the intermissionless Drowsy Chaperone later this summer.

Highly Recommended.

Million Dollar Quartet continues at the Croswell Opera House, 129 E Maumee St, Adrian, MI through May 22nd. Tickets: croswell.org or 517-264-SHOW






Croswell Opera House – Million Dollar Quartet May 10, 2016

Posted by ronannarbor in Croswell Opera House.
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One day in December 1956, four up-and-coming musicians met by chance at the Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee.

Their names were Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. All four would go on to shape the face of rock ’n’ roll for an entire generation. And the story of that legendary jam session has been memorialized in a Tony Award-winning musical, “Million Dollar Quartet,” which opens May 13 at the Croswell Opera House in Adrian.

Lawrence Havelka of Chelsea, who was last seen at the Croswell in last summer’s “Big Fish,” plays Elvis. The role of Jerry Lee Lewis will be played by John Grieco, a New York-based actor and singer. Jonathan Crayne of Adrian will play Carl Perkins. And Johnny Cash will be played by Phil Baugh of Fort Collins, Colorado, whose past roles at the Croswell include “Walk the Line,” a musical based on the country singer’s life.

Eric Parker of Chicago, who is directing the show, will also play the role of Sun Records owner Sam Phillips. Tatiana Owens, a Toledo native who now lives in New York and starred in last summer’s production of “Memphis,” will play Elvis’ girlfriend, Dyanne. The singers will be backed by Keith Kemner of Adrian as Fluke, a studio drummer, and Tim Prettyman of Tecumseh as Jay Perkins, a bassist who is also Carl Perkins’ brother.

Rather than impersonate the stars with all of the trademark moves they developed later in life, Parker said the cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” will try to capture the energy and innocence of four young stars at the beginning of their careers.

“This just captures them as young guys — young Southern boys doing what they love to do,” he said. “They’re relatively innocent guys with the first blush of success on them.”

The show takes place in the Sun Records recording studio, and scenic designer Doug Miller has decorated the set to look like a postwar studio built in a converted auto parts store. Costumes by Betsy Lackey will complete the picture, bringing the audience back to the early days of rock ’n’ roll as the cast tears through many of the four stars’ greatest hits.

“Million Dollar Quartet” runs the weekends of May 13-15 and May 20-22, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sunday performances at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $35 and may be ordered online at croswell.org or by calling 517-264-7469.

The Croswell Opera House is at 129 E. Maumee St. in downtown Adrian. Because the front of the building is under construction, parking behind the theater is recommended.

If you go

  • What: “Million Dollar Quartet”
  • When: May 13-15 and May 20-22, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m. and Sunday shows at 2:30 p.m.
  • Where: Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian
  • Tickets: $15 to $35
  • More info: croswell.org