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Review: 'Million Dollar Quartet' shakes, rattles and rolls

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“Million Dollar Quartet,” which tells the incredible true story of a recording session between Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and then-newcomer Jerry Lee Lewis, boasts a songbook that will have you ‘shake, rattle and rolling’ in your seats.

It proves nearly impossible not to clap, toe-tap and sing along as the show’s six incredible musicians play the hell out of music that helped define rock ‘n’ roll.

Though none — fortunately — attempt to impersonate their legends-in-the-making, each actor brings the essence of their musician to their role. Tyler Hunter expertly captures the look, attitude and musical magic of Elvis Presley. Scott Moreau imbues his Johnny Cash with a dark vulnerability, while delivering his music (particularly “Ring of Fire”) with such haunting authenticity that, if you shut your eyes, you’ll swear it’s the Man in Black himself.

While John Countryman’s Jerry Lee Lewis is, at times, buffoonish, when he starts in on “Great Balls of Fire” the energy, essence and sound he channels into the character are pure. James Barry adeptly recreates the music of Perkins, while Kelly Lamont owns some of the evening’s finest vocal moments as Elvis’ love interest Dyanne.

Unfortunately, the show’s book at times leans toward the weak and formulaic. Narrator and Sun Records founder Sam Phillips’ (Vince Nappo) winds potentially fascinating tales of the discovery of each of these poor Southern boys between songs — yet they only end up feeling like so much filler.

Any faults in the script are forgiven, however, whenever the next song begins. This quartet, plus an incredible drummer (Patirck Morrow) and bassist (Corey Kaiser), crank out one big crowd pleaser after another. And, like all good jukebox musicals, there’s a big finish that’ll bring you to your feet for a rockin’ curtain call.

If you go

Through Oct. 20
Colonial Theatre
106 Boylston St., Boston
Starting at $33
866-438-9738
BroadwayInBoston.com

 
 
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