Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 5, 2023

Review: Berkshire Theatre Group, "Million Dollar Quartet"

Colonial Theater, Pittsfield, MA
through July 16, 2023
by Suzanne Wells
Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware

"Million Dollar Quartet" is an outstanding theatrical and musical production providing a little comedy, a little drama, and lots of hand-clapping, toe-tapping, finger-snapping music.

Directed and choreographed by Greg Santos, "Million Dollar Quartet" is the story of Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records and one night of music magic. The brick curtain rises to display the inside of a recording studio complete with instruments, microphones and a sound booth.

The first half showcases Phillips, played by Zach Cossman, as a practical businessman and savvy talent scout who narrates his discovery of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley while each performs a Sun Records’ hit, ultimately turning a recording session into a late-night jam session.

The second half of the play takes a dramatic turn. Having sold Elvis’ contract to save Sun Records, Sam Phillips plans to secure its future only to be confronted with the possibility of having to start all over again. Zach Cossman shines during his dramatic monologue soliciting sympathy from the audience as he conveys his disappointment, frustration, and anger. 
Alessandro Gian Viviano’s portrayal of Elvis is the perfect combination of humility, gratefulness, and regret over leaving Sun Records. When the music plays, he becomes the flirtatious, fun-loving, hip gyrating singer that made women all over the world swoon.

Bill Scott Sheets, dressed in black with a deep baritone voice, depicts Johnny Cash as the somber southern gentleman and role model, torn between guilt and desire.

Billy Rude portrays Jerry Lee Lewis “from Ferriday, Louisiana,” with his sarcastic wit, phenomenal piano playing, and performance-yoga, had all eyes returning to him scene after scene.

Colin Summers, as Carl Perkins, provides the sass. His incredible guitar playing and kicks brings Perkins back from the dead. In addition, Colin Summers, as the musical director, crosses every ‘t’ and dotts every ‘i’ in the timing of this ensemble  flowing seamlessly from light jazz background music to major production numbers, fading out during narratives only to coming back swinging, or “shakin’.”

Ultimately the Christmas Spirit prevails, and goodwill wins out. When the story is complete and the audience is on their feet, out comes the cast, dressed to the nines in sequins, to perform a concert of Legends.

Million Dollar Quartet will run at the Colonial Theater thru July 16, 2023.