Happening In Memphis: Meet the Million Dollar Quartet

 

If the guys in the touring cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” seem a little bit nervous on the Orpheum stage this weekend, know that’s only because they want to please you. They really want to please you.

Not just because it’s their job, but because you live in Memphis and you know this story – the one of the magical night when Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins all wound up at Sun Studio and cut a few tracks – by heart.

“With the Memphis crowd, it’s like they’re sitting back, saying ‘Alright, show us what you can do,” said Cody Slaughter, who plays Elvis.

(From left to right: Ben Goddard, James Barry, Cody Slaughter and David Elkins as the Million Dollar Quartet)

The good news is, they get it right. Cody Slaughter is a dead ringer for Elvis (he’s a professional Elvis Tribute Artist), David Elkins has Johnny Cash’s brooding down, and you’d never know that the actor who plays Jerry Lee Lewis is from a tiny British village.

As for James Barry, he’s just happy that people in Memphis know who his character is. “It’s nice that people in Memphis are familiar with this story already,” he told me. “We’ve been to places where no one knows who Carl Perkins is, and they’re watching the show, wondering, ‘wait…who’s that guy?’.”

“Million Dollar Quartet” takes place over a single night at Sun Studio, when Sam Phillips’ biggest acts all happened to be in the same room on the same night. It’s more than a jukebox musical, though – the show gives some insight into Presley, Cash, Perkins and Lewis before they were crazy famous.

Since the cast has been in Memphis, they’ve toured Sun Studio (which they described as a near-religous experience) and recorded some tracks there. Goddard and Barry were super excited to find out that Ardent Records is still open. “I just can’t believe we’re in Memphis,” Goddard gushed. “It’s like an out of body experience. It’s just too much.”

“I think we all love our characters,” added Elkins. “This show is like a love letter to people we admire.”

“Million Dollar Quartet” is at the Orpheum Theatre through Saturday, March 30.

Get tickets and show times here.

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