Pick ASR! “Million Dollar Quartet”— A Whole Lot of Shaking Goin’ On!

By Cari Lynn Pace

I rocked my way through the 1960s and ‘70s, blithely unaware that the music that made me dance had its roots in ‘50s-era Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. They had a mutual connection in their early discovery by Sam Phillips, a music producer at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee.

One incredible night in 1956, these four legends showed up at Sun Records. Each had a different agenda. Million Dollar Quartet is the ostensibly true story of what may have happened that unforgettable night.

Million Dollar Quartet is a freewheeling frenzied ride …

Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse presented Million Dollar Quartet in 2019 to great acclaim. Their GK Hardt stage is once again rockin’ the house with this hit Broadway musical.

The cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” at work, 6th Street Theater, Santa Rosa. Pictures courtesy 6th Street.

Director (and music director) Steve Lasiter doubles his formidable talents playing Johnny Cash. Lasiter has channeled “The Man in Black” in national tours. He’s joined onstage by Elvis, a movin’ and shakin’ Nathan Roberts. Roberts gets the audience roaring when he encourages the audience to beg for more.

Nathan Roberts as Elvis in “Million Dollar Quartet” at 6th Street Theater, Santa Rosa. Pictures courtesy 6th Street.

Wyatt Andrew Brownell harnesses the wild energy of Jerry Lee Lewis, complete with his foot bangin’ piano. Jake Turner portrays songwriter/guitarist Carl Perkins as the oft-disregarded rockabilly star chasing his next hit. These actors are musicians who take glee in trying to “one-up” each other when they hog the mike.

The backstory gradually exposes why these four have come to meet up with Phillips, “The Father of Rock and Roll,” a part perfectly cast with veteran Dwayne Stincelli. Phillips is credited with discovering and nurturing many musicians to the top of the charts. When his artists’ agent contracts renew, surprises occur.

Steve Lasiter (right) in “Million Dollar Quartet” at 6th Street Theater. Pictures courtesy 6th Street.

Joining the on-and-off recording session are George Smeltz on drums, with Michael Leal Price on the upright bass. Elvis brings his current girlfriend (sultry Jennifer Barnaba) to the gathering. She lends silky singing and style to soften the macho-but-friendly aggression between the guys.

Million Dollar Quartet is a freewheeling frenzied ride, playing “Can you top this?” to the audience. One drawback is that the comfortable seats at the GK Hardt Theatre leave no room for dancing in the aisles. If you never heard these legends in person—or even if you did—come rock with this show. There’s a whole lot of shaking goin’ on!


ASR Writer & Editor Cari Lynn Pace is a voting member of SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and writes theatre and lifestyle reviews for the Marinscope Community Newspapers throughout Marin County. Contact: pace-koch@comcast.net


ProductionMillion Dollar Quartet
Written byColin Escott and Floyd Mutrux
Directed bySteve Lasiter
Producing Company6th Street Playhouse
Production DatesThru May 4th, 2024
Production Address6th Street Playhouse
52 W. 6th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Telephone (707) 523-4185
Tickets$35 to $58
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
Aisle Seat Review PICK?YES!

Other Voices: “Million Dollar Quartet”

'Lovers of old school rock ‘n' roll will get a big bang out of 'Million Dollar Quartet,' a mighty slick jukebox musical powered by a dynamite song stack and dynamic portrayals of the four legends singing ‘em..."
New Jersey Newsroom
"What exactly is it that makes the new musical 'Million Dollar Quartet' so damn enjoyable and invigorating? Is it the pure simplicity and rapid-fire energy of four rock 'n' roll legends performing their signature tunes for 100 blissful minutes? Is it the charisma and talent of the actors who portray these legendary figures Whatever the case, it's one hell of a winner..."
On Off Broadway
"The musicianship sells this entertainment. If the rockabilly rhythms of Perkins or the proto-rocker antics of Lewis don't set your heart to palpitating, then 'Million Dollar Quartet' will be lost on you. The calculation is that fans of early rock-and-roll and idolaters of Presley and Cash are of an age and economic level to fill the Nederlander's pews. And for them, the musical will feel at times like a throbbing worship service..."
The Washington Post