CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – April 29, 2019 – Heritage Theatre Festival is preparing to get its 2019 season off to a rocking start with the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. The show tells the story of the momentous night of December 4, 1956, when legendary Sun Studios owner Sam Phillips brought together musical icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis for a one-time-only jam session for the ages.
The production, set to launch on June 28 at the Culbreth Theatre, will be directed by Tim Seib, who has directed multiple productions of the show including the most recent national tour. Seib will work alongside Jon Rossi, MDQ national tour musical director, and MDQ tour veterans Austin Hohnke (Carl Perkins) and Peter Oyloe (Johnny Cash), as well as Trevor Dorner (Jerry Lee Lewis), the understudy from the tour. The cast will also feature Jacob Barton as Elvis Presley,
Taylor Kraft as Dyanne, and Adam Poole as Sam Phillips. Rossi will play the role of Fluke and Bill Morey will be featured as Brother Jay. Additional creative team members include: Batul Rizvi (Scenic Design), Anna Grywalski (Costume Design) and R. Lee Kennedy (Lighting Design). Million Dollar Quartet, with a Tony Award-nominated book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux and original concept and direction by Mutrux, features a hit parade of tunes that has had audiences on Broadway and across the world rocking in their seats and sometimes dancing in the aisles, including Blue Suede Shoes, Fever, Great Balls of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues, Hound Dog, and more.
The show differs from other “jukebox musicals,” Seib said, in that it uses its unique setting and musical moment to give audiences fascinating insights into the lives and careers of the four artists. “People get so much more than just the classic hits in this show,” Seib said. “They get to meet these people in the place where they were all discovered and at a time when they were still very early in their careers. You get these little vignettes of what their origin stories were in addition to witnessing the magic that happened in that room on that night.”
Another thing that sets this show apart, Seib said, is the fact that all of the music made on stage is made by the performers themselves. “The fact that there is no supplemental backup band, and that everything you hear is being generated on stage, provides a kind of electric energy that you just don’t get from a typical musical.”
The music, Rossi said, has a distinctly multi-generational appeal. “One of my favorite things is when we have younger people come out to the show. I have heard so many young people who literally don’t know any of these names, except maybe Elvis or Johnny Cash, and they fall in love with it and think it is new and that the music we are making on stage is revolutionary. I love sharing this music and this energy with these kids and to watch them fall in love with it.”
The experience of bringing together a cast for the show, Seib said, gives him an understanding of what Sam Phillips must have experienced on that magical night. “I feel a little like Sam Phillips in that I am so excited to get all of these wonderful and talented people in the same room and to feel what the energy is like. It is what makes revisiting this show so exciting. The dynamic is always going to be different based on who is in the room.”
Another exciting aspect of this production for Seib is the opportunity for the company to take its time to build and present the show as opposed to being constrained by the often-harsh realities of a tour schedule. “Jenny Wales and her whole team at Heritage are so excited and so committed to putting the whole weight of their production power behind this show and I am really looking forward to working with them to present a full-scale production that really allows us to pull out all the stops.”
The 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season will also include Kate Hamill’s rollicking reimagination of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (July 12-21, Ruth Caplin Theatre) the beloved Steel Magnolias (July 26-August 4, Culbreth Theatre); and The Niceties (August 2-11, Ruth Caplin Theatre), a powerful drama of race, power, privilege, and who gets to tell our story. Season subscriptions for Heritage Theatre Festival are currently available online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org; by phone at 434-924-3376, or in person at the UVA Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building on Culbreth Road. Single tickets will go on sale on June 5.
For more information on the upcoming 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.