Goodness gracious! Rock ‘n’ roll history to play out at the Grand

Grease your hair, put your lucky quarter in the jukebox, and get ready to do a whole lotta shakin’!

Turn back time to December 4th, 1956 and become a fly on the wall for one of the most explosive jam sessions ever recorded. Follow Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins to Sun Records, and witness them do what they do best: make rock ‘n' roll history.

Playing April 16 until May 11, the Grand Theatre presents Million Dollar Quartet. This Tony-Award nominated jukebox musical pays homage to the electric moment in music history when a young Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins collided in the same place at the same time, and unexpectedly recorded the impromptu jam session known as “The Million Dollar Quartet”. The show, described by audiences as “a monumental moment of rock ‘n’ roll that explodes off the stage,” is set in the original recording booth at Sun Records and features over 20 hit songs, including “Great Balls of Fire”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, etc. The legendary and familiar soundtrack drives a story of passion and determination, illustrating how these legends were made.

Written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, Million Dollar Quartet has been getting audiences moving since 2006, with successful runs on Broadway, the West End, and beyond. The portrayal of the authentic passion, sound, and kinship around a love of music is, as Variety describes it, “…a crowd pleaser that mixes jukebox and story into a satisfying whole.” Unsurprisingly, this production has been a continuous hit across North America and around the world.

Johnny Cash poses at the mic with a guitar.
Adam Stevenson as Johnny Cash. Photo by Mai Tilson.

Director Julie Tomaino exclaims, “It’s just a rockin’ party the entire time. The show happens, and halfway through, it becomes a concert!” The award-winning choreographer and director describes listening to the original recording session as “magical.”

Magic is exactly what happened between Elvis, Johnny, Jerry, and Carl that night. How else do you explain the unlikely chance of those four talents being in the same room, a recording studio no less, with no obligation to record, but they chose to do so anyway over their shared love of music? Tomaino brings this idea into a modern context, remarking, “When does Beyonce get together with Lady Gaga, get together with Bruno Mars? Never do they all get together and record just for fun.”

The cast of music greats includes the owner of Sun Records, Sam Phillips. He had a knack for being able to “find diamonds in the rough,” Tomaino remarks, calling him the “the father of rock and roll.” When Carl Perkins entered the studio that day, Sam Phillips brought newcomer Jerry Lee Lewis on to help fill out the sound. News of Perkins' presence spread around town until it reached both Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley who both found reasons to swing by to meet, greet, and ready to rock out together whether the tape was on or not.  

Carl Perkins poses at the mic with an electric guitar
Tyler Check as Carl Perkins. Photo by Ryan Parker.

The slogan of Sun Records, “We Record Anything-Anywhere-Anytime,” reflected Sam Phillips’ dedication to his craft. His love of music was strongly influenced by a childhood surrounded by sounds of R&B and predominantly Black musicians. During segregation, his studio became a safe haven with music as its heart and soul. In fact, many hits sung in this musical are written by Black artists, including Chuck Berry, Otis Blackwell, and Ellas McDaniel, just to name a few of the many names credited. Phillips and Sun Records impacted almost every musician who walked in and out of their doors. Phillips was not just a label and a producer but a friend and key player in the creation of rock ’n’ roll, a story told onstage in Million Dollar Quartet. 

Don’t miss out on an explosive night of rock ’n’ roll at the Grand Theatre, starting April 16 on the Spriet Stage. Tickets range from $23 to $98, while supplies last. Visit for more information.

Header photo: Company members of Million Dollar Quartet. Photos by Mai Tilson and Ryan Parker.