Du-Jay (11) and Sagezilla (9) were elated to meet the Million Dollar Quartet cast back stage after the show. The actors we're totally cool with the kids and asked them about the instruments they're starting to learn (drums & guitar respectively) and about their circus arts performing!
EXTENDED AGAIN BY POPULAR DEMAND!
New block of tickets on sale through September 1, 2013
ChiIL out with ChiIL Mama and Million Dollar Quartet. They make our ChiIL Picks List for our favorite long running shows you can take you kids and/or your parents to. This awesome rockin' ride of a show will be a nostalgia trip for your elders and another brick in the wall of your littles' rock education. All ages will adore this bass climbin', piano poundin', hip grindin', riff rockin', jam session of the greats. I challenge you to keep your butts in the seats. It's nearly impossible. I bet you'll find yourself dancing and at the very least clapping and head boppin' along, if not belting out the lyrics right along with the band.
Du-Jay, Sagezilla and I caught Million Dollar Quartet and a meet n greet/ sneak peek back stage. We all completely dug the show. We went on Family Night and the kids got some seriously sweet FREE swag bags with a show CD, calendars, tattoos, fridge magnets, guitar picks, and more! I'm sure the content varies monthly, but we were impressed. And, as if that's not cool enough, on family nights, one child under 17 is admitted free with each adult ticket purchase. So what are you waiting for? Go already.
We didn't roll video on formal interviews, but we had a chance to casually chat with the cast back stage after the show, and they were all enthusiastic about their work. It's an exceptionally talented cast, as the script requires musicians who can handle the acting elements of a long running stage show, or actors who are excellent enough musicians to cover the infamous greats with style. All of the actors picked up instruments when they were young. And Elvis (Brandon Bennett) was already making a living as an Elvis impersonator before he auditioned for and found a permanent gig with Million Dollar Quartet.
None of the actors have been there for the whole 5 year run. I believe they said the longest hold out has been there over 3 years, though, which is entirely impressive in the theatre world! There was an influx of newbies about a year ago, when some of the Chicago cast was tapped for the touring production. They have an excellent rapport with each other and look like they're thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage.
I asked how they keep it fresh and new night after night. Back in the day, my theatre friends in long running professional shows used regale me with stories on how they'd mess with each others' props/food/written note props etc. in an attempt to mix it up and see how far they could push it without someone breaking character. This cast laughed at that and said they're not that evil to each other. However, lots of improv dialogue goes on under the music and as the songs start and finish, so they said there's plenty of opportunity to verbally mess with each other and throw in new surprises nightly.
If you haven't made it out to see Million Dollar Quartet, we highly recommend it. Sometimes it's easy to get lazy about long running shows, and put off going to see them for other short runs. My advice....don't. When you live in a vital and amazing theatre town like Chicago, the sheer number of excellent productions can be overwhelming. But there's a reason Million Dollar Quartet has been running 5 years. Don't miss this must see.
Million Dollar Quartet will offer special family discounts on select Sundays. Family nights have extended through the summer of 2013, and are currently scheduled for April 14, May 19, June 23, July 28 and August 19 at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets to Million Dollar Quartet Family Nights are buy one, get one free. (One child under 17 will be admitted free with each adult ticket purchase.) The evenings will feature giveaways with special gifts from Million Dollar Quartet. Check www.milliondoallarquartetlive.com/family for information about upcoming Family Nights.
Million Dollar Quartet is a 90-minute, family-friendly production. Audience members of all ages are invited to laugh, clap—and even dance—during the show.
For more show information, visit www.milliondollarquartetlive.com.
Million Dollar Quartet, now in its fifth year in Chicago, continues performances through September 1, 2013 with cast membersBrandon Bennett (Elvis Presley), Shaun Whitley (Carl Perkins), Lance Lipinsky (Jerry Lee Lewis), Chris Damiano (Johnny Cash), Tim Decker(Sam Phillips), Whitney Kraus Jones (Dyanne), Marc Edelstein (Jay Perkins/Bass player) and Dan Leali (Fluke/Drummer). The Tony-nominated musical inspired by the famed 1956 recording session that brought together legendary rock ‘n’ roll icons Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, celebrates its long run in Chicago, a multiple Tony-nominated New York run, a long-running London production, a newly-opened production in Las Vegas, and a national tour that kicked-off in October 2011.
The Chicago production continues to break box office records at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Tickets are now on sale through September 1, 2013 at the Apollo box office, phone (773) 935-6100, and online through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.milliondollarquartetlive.com.
Million Dollar Quartet features a treasure trove of the greatest rock ’n’ roll, gospel, R&B and country hits from these music legends, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Riders in the Sky,” “Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line,” and “Hound Dog.” Million Dollar Quartet captures the infectious spirit, freewheeling excitement and thrilling sounds of a singular moment when four of the music industry’s most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, came together for one of the most memorable nights in music history.
Directed by Eric Schaeffer and Floyd Mutrux, with a book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Relevant Theatricals, John Cossette Productions and Northern Lights Inc.
Million Dollar Quartet had its world premiere at Florida’s Seaside Music Theatre, and was subsequently staged at the Village Theatre in Washington, breaking box office records. In Chicago, the production moved to the Apollo on November 5, 2008, following its sold-out, limited engagement at the Goodman’s Owen Theatre. The Broadway production garnered three Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Levi Kreis; three Drama League Award nominations; and an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. Million Dollar Quartet is currently playing in New York at New World Stages, London at the Noel Coward Theatre and it recently began a national tour.
Million Dollar Quartet tickets are on sale through September 1, 2013. Tickets to Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theater are available through the Apollo Theater box office, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave, (773) 935-6100. Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster,www.ticketmaster.com.
Tickets are $25-$85. (Standard ticketing fees apply.)
Rush student tickets for select performances (Wed-Fri and Sun evenings only) are available 2 hours prior to curtain at the box office with valid Student ID. Student rush tickets are subject to availability.
The Apollo performance schedule is as follows: Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sundays at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. (Book your tickets early for the best seats.)
Producer Gigi Pritzker comments, “It’s a thrill to extend, once again, through the end of our fifth year in Chicago. Since the beginning, Chicago has embraced Million Dollar Quartet and we are grateful for the continued and enthusiastic support of our home town audiences. It’s been a hit in Chicago, New York, London, Japan, on the national tour, and is now open in Las Vegas, as well. The show remains as fresh, energetic and engaging as always—partially due to the more than 20 rock ‘n’ roll hits in the show and the tremendous talent on stage.”
ABOUT THE CAST
Brandon Bennett (Elvis Presley) a native of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, has performed with legendary stars like The Jordanaires, DJ Fontana and The Sweet Inspirations. Brandon has been honored with several international awards, including prestigious honors from Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. He joins the cast of MDQ after performing for the past two years with the stage production The Elvis Story in Quebec, Canada. Brandon recently appeared on Late Show with David Letterman.
Shaun Whitley (Carl Perkins) is a musician, actor, composer, and Jeff nominated music director. Some
Chicago credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Flute/Thisbe) with Chicago Shakespeare Theater; PumpBoys and Dinettes (Jim) with Drury Lane Theater; Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Tommy, u/s Buddy Holly) with Drury Lane Theater; Uncle Vanya (Telegin) with TUTA; and Cotton Patch Gospel (Bass/Mandolin) with Provision Theater. He studied acting at RADA in London.
Lance Lipinsky (Jerry Lee Lewis), a Texas native, grew up studying his dad’s record collection of Elvis, Roy Orbison, and his hero, Jerry Lee Lewis. These influences never left him and now, at age 24, he combines these styles in his own original music similar to early Rock & Roll, classic Country and even a touch of 1960’s pop. His energetic live shows have led him all over the world, even to making his national television debut at the original Ryman Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.
Chris Damiano (Johnny Cash) is an Atlanta native, whose Chicago credits include Sugar at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Theo Ubique’s productions of Evita(Che, Jeff Award Non-Equity) and Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night (Man 1, Jeff Award Non-Equity). Damiano played guitar for Lil’ Buds Children’s Theatre productions of Those Silly Reindeer and Still Life with Iris. He currently plays with the bluegrass band Groundspeed and with the Italian folk/jazz group I Monelli monelli.
Tim Decker (Sam Phillips), a longtime Chicago actor, has appeared at Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman, Next, Milwaukee Rep, Touchstone, Shattered Globe, Stage Left, Famous Door, American Theatre Company, and American Blues (where he received a Principal Actor Jeff Award for his work in Toys in the Attic), among others.
Whitney Kraus Jones (Dyanne) is making her Chicago debut in Million Dollar Quartet. Jones recently graduated from Ball State University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Past credits include Syncope (Short Film), Brighton Beach Memoirs, Beauty and the Beast, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Godspell.
Dan Leali (Fluke, Drummer) a native of the Chicago area, has performed with jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker; songwriters Jewel, Liz Phair, Peter Himmelman and Robbie Fulks; Poi Dog Pondering; Fareed Haque; bluesman John Primer; and Liquid Soul. He has performed on television and radio jingles, as well as arcade and video game soundtracks, and maintains a private teaching practice. Dan is also a founding member of the band Tributosaurus.
Marc Edelestein (Jay Perkins, Bassist) Devoted to American roots music, Marc has avidly promoted and
performed internationally in rockabilly, bluegrass, country, and folk projects. Performances include altcountry’s Robby Fulks Band; 7 years with Special Consensus Bluegrass Band; musical revue Women In My Life with singer-songwriters Bob Gibson and Michael Smith; Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s country & western auxiliary CSOakies; and numerous recordings. Marc made his theatrical debut as string bassist and vocalist in the Jeff Award winning Woody Guthrie’s American Song (Northlight, Briar Street Theater), and performed in Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Goodman Theater).
ABOUT MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
On December 4, 1956, an auspicious twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together. The place was Sun Records’ storefront studio in Memphis. The man who made it happen was Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ’n’ Roll,” who discovered them all. The four legends-to-be united for the only time in their careers for an impromptu recording that has come to be known as one of the greatest rock jam sessions of all time.
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CREATIVE TEAM OF MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Director Eric Schaeffer is the acclaimed co-founder and artistic director of the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, where his work has been honored with numerous Helen Hayes Awards including Outstanding Direction. He directed Putting it Together and Glory Days on Broadway, the first national tour of big, The Musical, and the West End debut of The Witches of Eastwick. He also served as artistic director for the Kennedy Center’s recent Sondheim Celebration.
Floyd Mutrux is also the co-author of the book to Million Dollar Quartet, sharing writing credits with noted Grammy® Award-winning author and music historian Colin Escott. Mutrux has written, directed or produced numerous films, including the classic biopic of early rock ’n’ roll American Hot Wax, Dick Tracy and Mulholland Falls. Escott, the author of numerous books including Good Rockin’ Tonight – Sun Records and the Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll, was awarded a Grammy® for producing The Complete Hank Williams, and was nominated for a Grammy for producing B.B. King – King of the Blues.
Musical Director Chuck Mead, with multiple hit records, has stood at the forefront of the alternative country music explosion as founder and lead singer of BR549, the three-time Grammy® Award nominated country band.
Relevant Theatricals (Producer) is a commercial production company headed by Gigi Pritzker and Ted
Rawlins, dedicated to developing new work for the stage. Current projects include: Snapshots, a new musical with book by David Stern and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, creator of Wicked, Pippin and Godspell; and a new musical version of Dennis The Menace, scheduled to open in Seattle later this year. Relevant’s sister company, Odd Lot Entertainment, develops and produces outstanding new film properties. Current productionsinclude the feature Rabbit Hole, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire, starring Nicole Kidman and Dianne Wiest, and directed by John Cameron Mitchell. Relevant Theatricals is proud to be part of the producing team that developed Million Dollar Quartet.
John Cossette Productions (Producer) was founded by John Cossette whose 30 year career in the music industry as an innovative producer of large scale events was legendary. John produced the Grammy’s, the BET awards, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and a star-studded concert in Central Park. He was deeply involved with MusiCares and the EJ Jackson Foundation which helps to feed the homeless in Los Angeles. Under the direction of Rita Cossette the company will continue to develop and produce music related entertainment.