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Million Dollar Quartet - There's a Whole Lot of Music Goin' On at Studio Tenn in Franklin

by Rich and Laura Lynch

There was a whole lot of music goin' on at Studio Tenn who are presenting Million Dollar Quartet, October 19 through November 05, 2023 in Franklin, Tennessee. Million Dollar Quartet is a Broadway production that celebrates a mythical and historic musical moment that took place December 04, 1956. On that day just by chance Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash were all visiting Sun Studio in Memphis. The four ended up recording an impromptu jam that would come out as an album years later and that inspired the musical which opened on the Great White Way in 2010.

Million Dollar Quartet - now extended due to popular demand.

Million Dollar Quartet was saturated with the music associated with its four stars. Dialogue, narrations and songs were effectively used to give a broad overview of the quartet - most of whom came from humble beginnings and places of loss. The storyline also talks about Sam Phillips' (Moot Davis) role in pioneering rock and roll in the 1950's. Throughout the night the founder of Sun shared his struggles of keeping his company a float while the major labels continued to lure his artists away.

The play opened with the beguiling "Blue Suede Shoes" performed by Carl Perkins (Christopher Wren). He is soon in a war of words with the animated Jerry Lee Lewis (Jefferson McDonald) and the two humorously bickered with each other for much of the performance. Next on the scene was Johnny Cash (Christopher J. Essex) who added more tension in the room as he is there to tell Sam that he signed a contract with Columbia Records. That did not stop him from presenting a potent "Folsom Prison Blues".

Last to stroll in is Elvis played by the actor that goes by the stage name Cole. Apparently, Cole was on hiatus from his usual gig in Vegas where he plays either Cash or Presley in the Sin City version of this play. Back in Tennessee, he arrived with his date Dyanne (Emma Rose Williamson) who quickly heated up the room with her red-hot take of "Fever". Act One ended with the four men surrounding a single mic to sing a riveting "Down by the Riverside".

Studio Tenn artistic director Patrick Cassidy at the new venue's opening weekend.

Snippets of the history of Sun Records continued to unfold as Act Two rolled along with more great music including the spiritual "Peace in the Valley" which was part of the group's discussion about the battles of temptation that comes with playing "the devil's music" and Jerry demonstrated that he could have been a formable preacher. He would soon counter his fire and brimstone message with "Great Balls of Fire". Any tension that may have been between the quartet dissipated as the show closed with them wearing glittery jackets and presenting a four pack of their hits ending with an over the top "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" that had the crowd on their feet.

Million Dollar Quartet was overflowing with some of the most iconic music of our times paired with the legendary people who were a big part of it. Studio Tenn certainly did the production justice and they have more in store for their 2023/2024 season. During the pre-show remarks which included thanks to all their supporters it was announced that Sally Struthers (All in the Family, Gilmore Girls and more) is scheduled to play Daisy in Studio Tenn's presentation of Driving Miss Daisy (March 7-17, 2024). Star power like that proves that this group is well-respected in the industry.

Studio Tenn is a professional regional theatre company and a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Middle Tennessee. Their mission is to captivate and inspire with Broadway-quality concerts, musicals and plays while encouraging the next generation to explore the wonders of live theatre. Studio Tenn is currently located in the newly renovated Turner Theater in the Factory at Franklin and Friday's performance was the only second show to take place in their new home following a glitzy opening night gala. In 2024, there are a number of new restaurants scheduled to open at The Factory ready to join Mojo's Tacos - who are themselves a proud supporter of Studio Tenn. So, come on out to the theater, enjoy a meal and you'll feel like a million bucks - especially while the quartet is in town.

Studio Tenn has a new home at The Turner Theater at Factory in Franklin.

Related Links: For more information on STUDIO TENN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Studio Tenn


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