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Review: Million Dollar Quartet, Ipswich Regent, November 20-25

21 November, 2017 - 16:53
Million Dollar Quartet, starring Martin Kemp, visits the Ipswich Regent November 20-25. Photo: Alastair Muir

Million Dollar Quartet, starring Martin Kemp, visits the Ipswich Regent November 20-25. Photo: Alastair Muir

©ALASTAIR MUIR CONTACT alastair@alastairmuir.com

One evening in 1956, four music legends gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for an impromptu but historic jam session and the story of that night is rockin’ the Regent this week as hit musical Million Dollar Quartet comes to town.

This tale of a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration sees Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins (no, I didn’t know who he was either) meet by chance at the studio that launched their careers.

Despite a few grudges - Carl Perkins actually wrote Blue Suede Shoes but it is always attributed to Elvis – they can’t resist the chance to play together. What follows is jukebox musical magic.

A must see for rock ‘n’ roll fans, this show is more like a gig from the past with idols of the genre singing great songs and the sound ‘turned up to 11’. Doing the music justice is no small task and tribute should be paid to the hugely talented cast which includes Rhys Whitfield as the voice and swivel hips of Elvis, Robbie Durham who seems to actually channel the voice of Johnny Cash as he is vocally spot on, and Matthew Wycliffe who is suitably grumpy as Perkins while dominating on guitar.

Special mention should also be made of Katie Ray who plays Elvis’s girlfriend Dyanne and performs a brilliant version of Fever.

But if music is the star of the show then Martin Kaye is the personality, heart and humour as new boy on the block Jerry Lee Lewis.

Not only a genius on piano, he captures the voice, style and physicality of Lewis perfectly and gives the whole story a lift.

Something it needed as it felt somewhat flat against the joyous celebration of rock.

Though largely narrated by Sun Records owner and creator of rock ‘n’ roll, Sam Phillips (Martin Kemp), I rather lost interest during these moments and felt it needed a stronger, louder stage presence to really engage the audience and keep the pace.

But then does the narrative matter when you have four rock ‘n’ roll legends on stage doing their thing?

Jerry Lee Lewis says rock ‘n’ roll is ‘temptation, fornication and damnation’ so I suspect not.

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Donald Fagen and Walter Becker would be immensely proud and impressed with this nine-piece outfit.

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