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Million Dollar Quartet captures rock history

Like many good things, it happened by chance. American singer-songwriter Carl Perkins, about a year after he wrote Blue Suede Shoes, arrived to Sun Record Studios in Memphis Tennessee to record a new single, Matchbox.

Owner Sam Phillips, a.k.a. Father of Rock’n’Roll showed up with Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play the piano. A former Sun artist now recording with RCA Victor, the 21-year old Elvis Presley and his then-girlfriend Marilyn Evans popped by just to say hello. Then one more singer dropped by, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had just had some success with a few hits on country charts.

Their synergy inevitably led to music and an impromptu recording session began with these not-yet icons of popular music.

Some of the actual recording session can be heard on youtube, but if you want to be immersed in the experience, the Segal Centre is staging the musical The Million Dollar Quartet with six extended performances by popular demand.

Elvis is played by singer and musician George Krissa, reprising this role following the Globe Theatre production.  Multi-disciplinary artist Sara Diamond plays his girlfriend, though her name is Dyanne in the production. Christo Graham, actor and pianist from Ontario will take on the role of the fiery Jerry Lee Lewis. Sky Seals will star as Johnny Cash and newcomer Ed Murphy, a singer-songwriter who has been a front man for numerous bands will be making his professional stage debut in the role of Carl Perkins.

The smash hit Broadway musical features some of the most irresistible music from the 50s, including Blue Suede Shoes, Fever, That’s All Right, Sixteen Tons, Great Balls of Fire, I Walk the Line, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Who Do You Love?, Folsom Prison Blues, Hound Dog and more.

Million Dollar Quartet plays at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts April 23 to May 14 with additional performances May 17 to May 21 at Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts.

Tickets are $51-$65 at The Segal, 514-739-7944 segalcentre.org and $65 at Place des arts, 514-842-2112 placedesarts.com.

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