Indiana Daily Student

Musical pays tribute to rock 'n' roll

"Million Dollar Quartet" comes to IU Auditorium

Carl Perkins, played by James Barry, and Johnny Cash, played by Scott Moreau, finish performing "Folsom Prison Blues" during the "Million Dollar Quartet" on Tuesday at the IU Auditorium.
Carl Perkins, played by James Barry, and Johnny Cash, played by Scott Moreau, finish performing "Folsom Prison Blues" during the "Million Dollar Quartet" on Tuesday at the IU Auditorium.

Tony Ellett grew up listening to Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

“I’ve always listened to the records,” Ellett said.

He got a chance to listen to some of Presley and Cash’s music played live Tuesday night at the IU Auditorium during the first of two performances of the Tony-nominated musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Songs by Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins rounded out the show’s music.

“Million Dollar Quartet” takes place in December 1956  and depicts a one-time recording session with the four artists at Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn.

In a concert style, each musician played several songs solo, and the four men played several numbers as a group. Music included hit songs such as “Great Balls of Fire,” “Hound Dog,” “Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line.”

Throughout the night, audience members tapped their feet and clapped to the music.

Ellett said during the period when the show takes place, his favorite musician was Presley and his favorite song by Presley was “Jailhouse Rock.”

“He stood out among the rest,” Ellett said. “He’s a good performer. He had so much energy in everything.”

Bob Klemkosky said he was in high school at the time the musical was set. He saw Presley at the Michigan State Fair in 1958 and saw Cash in Lansing, Mich. in the 1960s.

“I was a rock n’ roller,” Klemkosky said, adding that he still listens to the music.

Freshman Audrey Schnell said she heard the classic rock music playing outside the auditorium and decided to come check out the show with her roommate, Ali Michael.

“My dad told me this was a great show,” Schnell said. “It’s nice to have a break from studying. I haven’t been to a musical in a while.”

Michael said although she and Schnell didn’t know much about the show, they were excited to hear its music.

“The four people in it are so monumental. We both wanted it to be a surprise,” Michael said. “It’s more fun that way.”

Jeffrey Hart of Bloomington said although he had never seen “Million Dollar Quartet,” he was interested in the show because it recounts rock ‘n’ roll history.

“I lived through it,” Hart said, “I always liked Jerry Lee Lewis the best because he was the craziest.”

Hart said one year when he attended summer camp, someone played “Great Balls of Fire.”

“I was like, ‘what the heck was that?’” Hart said. “Then when I learned more about his (Lewis’s) life, I thought it was amazing.”

Hart also said he once had the opportunity to visit the studio at Sun Records.

“It’s cool,” he said. “It’s small and cruddy-looking, but it’s amazing because there’s been so many artists that have been through it.”

Teresa Parkes, who traveled to the auditorium from Bloomfield, Ind., said she enjoyed the music because it transcends generations.

“My daughter is young and she loves Elvis,” Parkes said. “This is timeless music. People have listened to it for years.”

Follow reporter Alyssa Schor on Twitter @schoralyssa.

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