Musical offers a million reasons to enjoy the show

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Onstage this month at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, "Million Dollar Quartet" is electrifying theater-goers with a quartet of powerhouse performances that go far beyond one's usual expectations of what singing actors in a musical can do.

The show is based on the night in 1956 when four rock 'n' roll greats - Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins - jammed together at Sam Phillips's Sun Records studio.

With a talented cast of eight professional actor-musicians, the show tells the extraordinary story of broken promises, secrets, and the celebration of four friends that is both poignant and heartwarming. But most of all, there's a "whole lotta shakin' goin' on," and audiences get to come along for the joyride.

"Each of the four leads who play these legends have done so before in other venues, and inhabit them effortlessly," said Russell Treyz, director of the show. Treyz is back at the Arts Center from his home in New York City. "Not only are they talented actors, but they are incredible singers and musicians, each playing their namesake's instruments to perfection."

Christopher Fordinal is Elvis Presley, with an uncanny physical resemblance to the king of rock 'n' roll, not to mention his replication of the crooner's smooth voice and hip gyrations.

Jeremy Sevelovitz plays Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, and captures his hauntingly beautiful signature sound.

The energetic Johnny Countryman portrayed the piano-playing powerhouse Jerry Lee Lewis on the national tour of the musical, and now he brings his jaw-dropping talent to that role on the Arts Center stage.

Rounding out the quartet is Luke Darnell, playing Carl Perkins, fresh from the Las Vegas production, and reprising his role beautifully.

Actress and singer Elizabeth DeRosa plays Elvis's girlfriend (at the time of the jam session), Dyanne. DeRosa has her own share of Broadway and national tour credits, including having performed in "Mary Poppins" (as understudy for Mary) on Broadway. She regales audiences with a sexy, show-stopping number of her own, "Fever."

The show is narrated by its emotional center, Sam Phillips (played by Colin Patrick Ryan), founder of Sun Records, where the four musicians had their start.

The Arts Center production rocks and rolls through July 30. The musical features 20 fireball-hits including "Blue Suede Shoes," "Great Balls of Fire," and "Folsom Prison Blues," and many more.

The production's stage manager, Gail Luna, said, "Audiences are dancing in the aisles, and rightly so. They know every song, and time flies as the actors take you on this 90-minute musical rocket trip."

"Million Dollar Quartet" is suitable for all ages. Tickets are $47 for adults and $33 for children (ages 5 to 15), and are available by calling the box office at 843-842-2787 or online at www.artshhi.com.

The Arts Center is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane on Hilton Head.

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