Sept. 2, 2009 — Jukebox musicals featuring the songs of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley have been launched on Broadway in recent years, and their legacies return to the Great White Way next spring in yet another show called Million Dollar Quartet.
The production, currently being presented at Chicago's Apollo Theatre, revolves around a legendary recording session on Dec. 4, 1956, in which the brightest stars associated with Sun Records — Elvis, Johnny, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins — performed songs in an impromptu gathering around the piano at Sam Phillips' Memphis studio. The original session is surrounded in mystery and folklore, and the Quartet production leans heavily on the spirit of the time, according to Broadway World, featuring such songs as "Blue Suede Shoes," "Great Balls Of Fire," "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On," "Sixteen Tons," "Who Do You Love" and "Folsom Prison Blues." Americana artist Chuck Mead, formerly of the Grammy-nominated band BR5-49, is the musical director for the show.
An Elvis-themed entrée, All Shook Up, ran at Broadway's Palace Theater for seven months in 2005, while Ring Of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical Show played the Ethel Barrymore Theatre for seven weeks the following year.
Country-related fare is currently receiving plenty of theatrical attention. Dolly Parton's 9 To 5: The Musical, which earned four Tony nominations this spring, closes after Sunday's performance at the Marquis Theatre. Joe Nichols and Lorrie Morgan are already set to appear in a production of the George Strait movie Pure Country in 2010.
The subjects of Million Dollar Quartet continue to make waves on their own. The Man In Black will be portrayed in a November graphic novel, Johnny Cash: I See Darkness. Jerry Lee Lewis has a new country album, Mean Old Man, on the way later this year or in early 2010.