|Elijah Leer, Mitchell Dallman, Armando Harlow Ronconi,|
Eric Sargeant, and Myia Ann Butler (photo courtesy of Old Log)
|the cast/band (photo courtesy of Old Log)|
It looks like Old Log dug their 2016 set out of storage for this show, and it's a good one. It looks every bit the music studio, including a music booth seen through a window where Sam often hangs out, and black and white tiles that together display that iconic photo (see above). The fun '50s costumes fits our image of each musician (scenic design by Erik Paulson, costume design by Meghan Kent). The design sets the scene for the music, which includes all the big hits like Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" (yes, he wrote it and sang it first), Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line," Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire," and Elvis' "Hound Dog." This loud, fast, classic '50s Rock and Roll is the kind of music you can't sit still while listening to, or at least I can't. But my favorite moments were the beautiful harmonies on songs like "Down By the Riverside" and "Peace in the Valley." Million Dollar Quartet is about the music, and the music is fantastic.
One small quibble with the show: the celebration of the appropriation of Black music by White artists feels a little insensitive and uncomfortable in today's environment (even more true in 2023 than when I first wrote about it in 2016). Carl Perkins mentions learning to play the guitar from a Black man who lived across the street, and Sam actually says that because White kids are afraid to buy records by Black artists, he needs to find a White artist who can sing like a Black artist. Hence, Elvis. Wikipedia tells me that Sam Phillips "advocated racial equality and helped break down racial barriers in the music industry." It would have been nice if the creators had delved into that side a bit more, and acknowledged the roots of this American music genre, rather than a just giving it a few throwaway lines.