A round-up of reviews for Million Dollar Quartet at the Noel Coward Theatre
Million Dollar Quartet is the hugely successful Broadway musical that has now made its way to the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre.
It tells the electrifying story of one night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis all came together to make music in the recording studio of Sun Records’ producer Sam Phillips.
The stars of the show, including Bill Ward as Sam Phillips, Ben Goddard as Jerry Lee Lewis, Derek Hagen as Johnny Cash, Robert Britton Lyons as Carl Perkins and Michael Malarkey as Elvis Presley, all get great notices from the critics, particularly Ben Goddard.
Whilst the book of the show comes in for some criticism, the music and performances more than makes up for it.
Read extracts of reviews, below, from the Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent and Evening Standard.
Average rating score for this production:
“this exuberantly nostalgic show”
“if you're of a certain generation, it's a joy to hear once again numbers such as Hound Dog, Great Balls of Fire and I Walk the Line.”
“Ben Goddard does a particularly good job of conveying the anarchic wildness of Jerry Lee Lewis. But Michael Malarkey as Elvis, Derek Hagen as Johnny Cash and Robert Britton Lyons, the one authentic American, as Carl Perkins offer substance as well as shadows.”
“Bill Ward as the pathfinding Phillips and Francesca Jackson as Elvis's squeeze, who offers a notably sultry, microphone-caressing version of Fever, add to the gaiety of a show that taps into all our yesterdays.” - The Guardian
“The success of Jersey Boys shows there's an appetite for musicals that are part jukebox extravaganza, part documentary - full of hit songs faithfully delivered, and spiced with humour and testosterone. Million Dollar Quartet, arriving in the West End after making a splash in America, is just such an exercise in upbeat nostalgia.”
“In Eric Schaeffer's efficient production the hits come thick and fast: Great Balls of Fire, Hound Dog, I Walk the Line, Blue Suede Shoes. Presiding over matters is Sam Phillips (Bill Ward), the proprietor of Sun, whose commentary stitches the songs into a somewhat clunky narrative.”
“The music is recreated in an enjoyably vigorous style. The performances go beyond being impersonations, though of course they have to satisfy in that respect. Ben Goddard stands out as Lewis, with effortless technical skill, plain-spoken forwardness and brazen peculiarity.”
“While the ensemble work is vibrant, this is a show that doesn't exactly throb with heart and soul. When at one point we hear a crackly recording from the Fifties, it has a magnetic quality that the modern version never manages.” - Evening Standard
“No one could claim that this is a great, original or ground-breaking piece of work, but anyone who loves rock and roll is almost certain to have a good time.”
“The show has been put together with palpable affection and knowledge by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux”
“excellent Bill Ward”
“But no one is going to turn up to Million Dollar Quartet looking for depth of character and a strong plot. What’s required is a blast of vintage rock and roll and here the show triumphantly delivers.”
“Oddly, Michael Malarkey proves the least charismatic of the cast as Elvis, though he sings well enough. The real stars are Robert Britton Lyons as Carl Perkins... and Ben Goddard as the mischievous Jerry Lee” - Daily Telegraph
if you can swallow the convoluted format of this tribute show cum dramatised Wikipedia entry, it works fine.”
“Robert Britton Lyons, the sole remnant of the Broadway cast, is a watchful but easy presence who handles Perkins’s singing and guitar-playing with ease. Ben Goddard is a brilliantly bumptious Lewis”
“Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux’s script takes this impromptu summit as a prompt to give us the hits. It’s also a primer in the influence of Sun Records boss Sam Phillips. Bill Ward makes a fair stab at playing this paternalistic Southerner without sounding as if he’s narrating a VH1 documentary.”
“unlike Jersey Boys, which makes you care about the band even as you’re willing them to whack out another oldie, the story is neither here nor there. Are we supposed to care that Phillips’s artists might leave him? I was happy to see them wipe that smug smile off his face for a second.”
“Eric Schaeffer’s production is at its simplest and strongest when they team up for some close-harmony work.” - The Times
“All credit then to the writers of this show for seeing the dramatic potential in this event. Only Jerry Lee Lewis is still alive, and he joined a curtain call when the show played in America for another impromptu jam. Ben Goddard's portrayal of him is a highlight of the evening, a bundle of aggression, sexual and otherwise.”
“It's frustrating though that this show could and should have been better. The enigmatic character of Phillips is barely explored at all, Elvis's distress at losing his roots and becoming a global commodity is nibbled at but not really addressed.”
“this is an enjoyable, feelgood musical with a soundtrack to die for.” - The Independent
Date: 28 February 2011
Written by: WestEndTheatre
Tags: Ben Goddard, Bill Ward, Derek Hagen, Francesca Jackson, Michael Malarkey, Million Dollar Quartet, Noel Coward Theatre, Reviews, Robert Britton Lyons