Million Dollar Quartet Rocks Chicago

March 20, 2009 10:21:44 AM PDT
The Million Dollar Quartet has struck gold in Chicago. Rock and roll fans love the free-wheeling musical inspired by the famed 1956 recording session that brought together legends Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley. The show has been extended several times at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave. 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.

Featuring 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," "Ghost Riders," and "Whole Lotta' Shakin' Goin' On," Million Dollar Quartet captures the infectious spirit 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.

"We are thrilled to announce we are extending our run in Chicago," said Gigi Pritzker and John Cossette, co-producers of Million Dollar Quartet. "It was always our hope that Chicago audiences would love this show. From the very first preview performance, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, exceeding our expectations and confirming our hopes."

Directed by Eric Schaeffer and Floyd Mutrux, with a book by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, Million Dollar Quartet is produced by Dee Gee Theatricals and John Cossette Productions.

Million Dollar Quartet features a stellar group of performers, equally adept as musicians and actors. The Chicago production stars Levi Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis; Lance Guest as Johnny Cash; Rob Lyons as Carl Perkins; and Eddie Clendening as Elvis Presley. Chicago's own Brian McCaskill plays the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll" Sam Phillips, and Chicago-based actress Kelly Lamont plays Elvis' girlfriend Dyanne.

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 in October 2008, following its sold-out, limited engagement at the Goodman's Owen Theatre.

Tickets to Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theatre are currently on sale and available through the Apollo Theater box office, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave, (773) 935-6100. Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets for the regular run are $25-$64.50. Rush student tickets are available for $20. Discounted tickets for groups are available by calling Group Theater Tix at (312) 423-6612, or by visiting www.grouptheatertix.com.

For more show information, visit www.milliondollarquartetlive.com.

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 of BR549, the three-time Grammy Award nominated country band.

Levi Kreis reprises his role as Jerry Lee Lewis after starring in the original Seattle production of Million Dollar Quartet. Kreis recently completed a 251 city tour promoting his last two albums, One of the Ones and The Gospel According to Levi. As a musician, Kreis has opened for such famed artists as Chaka Khan, Deborah Gibson and shared the stage with Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Snoop Dog, among others.

Lance Guest's career spans stage, film and TV with previous appearances on House and NYPD Blue, Screech for the Sci-Fi Channel, lead roles in Plan B, Jaws IV and the cult sci-fi classic The Last Starfighter. Guest played Johnny Cash in the Seattle production of Million Dollar Quartet and reprises the role for the Chicago premiere.

Rob Lyons reprises his role as Carl Perkins after starring in the Seattle production of Million Dollar Quartet. When not acting, Lyons' band, Megaphonic, is in high demand playing at Los Angeles' hottest nightclubs. He is currently composing for their upcoming album.

Eddie Clendening's previous musical credits include performances alongside rock 'n' roll greats such as Scotty Moore, James Burton, Billy Lee Riley, Jimmy Lee Fautheree, Eddie Bond and Little Richard and The Crickets, among others. Clendening's own band Eddie Clendening & The Blue Ribbon Boys have been in demand all across the U.S., Europe and Asia. With several musical releases under his belt, Clendening joins the cast of Million Dollar Quartet in the role of Elvis Presley.

Raised in Chicago's southwest suburbs, acclaimed Chicago actor Brian McCaskill stars in the role of Sam Phillips. McCaskill was recently seen in The Ballad of Emmett Till at Goodman Theatre; Dealer's Choice with Shattered Globe Theatre (Jeff Citation); It's All True with TimeLine Theatre (Recipient of an After Dark Award for Outstanding Performance); and Glengarry Glen Ross at Raven Theatre (Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee), among others.

Dee Gee Theatricals, a commercial production company dedicated to nurturing new work for the stage, was formed by Gigi Pritzker, Deborah Del Prete and Ted Rawlins. The company, with offices in Chicago and Los Angeles, is currently producing a number of exciting projects including: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which launched the new Guthrie Theatre and is on course to open on the West End next year; Snapshots a new musical with book by David Stern and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; and a new musical version of Dennis The Menace. The company is proud to be part of the producing team that developed Million Dollar Quartet, which began the day they were first shown the historic photograph of a truly amazing moment in American musical history.

John Cossette's more than 30-year career in the entertainment and music industry has earned him a respected reputation as an innovative and creative producer of large scale television shows and events. With John Cossette Productions, Cossette has produced Grammy Awards for the past 17 years and is the Consulting Producer on the Latin Grammy Awards. Cossette also produces five annual event specials for BET, including The BET Awards, which have become the premier event in Urban Music. Cossette has spearheaded a variety of corporate marketing events. At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Cossette produced a series of 20 concerts for AT&T, which were attended by more than 2.5 million people. Cossette helped launch the American Express Blue Card with "Central Park In Blue with Sheryl Crow & Friends" featuring Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and The Dixie Chicks, among others. Among his numerous additional producing credits, Cossette is heavily involved in a number of charitable events. The winner of two NAACP Image Awards, Cossette has produced benefits for the House Ear Institute, The Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, MusicCares, The NARAS Foundation and the Society of Singers. He also helps to underwrite the E.J. Jackson Foundation to feed the homeless in South Central L.A., helping to feed over 15,000 people on Thanksgiving.


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