‘Million Dollar Quartet Christmas’ features Marlboro actor as Jerry Lee Lewis
If you're looking to put a little "rock 'n roll" into your holiday season, you can't go wrong with "Million Dollar Quartet Christmas" running at the Buck County Playhouse through Jan. 1.
In case you're not familiar with story of the Million Dollar Quartet, on Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash all came together at Sun Record studios in Memphis for an all-night jam session. Presley was accompanied by his grilfriend, Marilyn Evans. Sun was where they all got their start, and they jammed throughout the night.
"Million Dollar Quartet Christmas" is the Christmas songs they played that night including the very touching "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
Jason Cohen, who is from Marlboro and plays Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical, called me on New Jersey 101.5 to explain.
"This is the sequel to 'Million Dollar Quartet,'" says Cohen. "So for those who don't know 'Million Dollar Quartet,' it's a musical that's based on a true story of December 4, 1956, when Jerry Lewis called Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley to get together in Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. It's a small, little place where they were all started, and they had this impromptu jam session and 'Million Dollar Quartert Christmas' is the sequel to it."
What's so great about the 'Million Dollar Quartet Christmas'?
"So for seven years on and off, I've been playing Jerry Lee and Million Dollar Quartet on tour all over the country. What makes it so great is the music. All of this this music from the 50's Elvis' music, Carl's music; it's so high energy. It's so celebratory. It's so exciting to play and to sing, and that's really what you know and the way that we see these audience members gets so excited"
Jerry Lee Lewis is more than just a role for Jason Cohen.
"When I first got hired to do the national tour of 'Million Dollar Quartet' back in 2015, I was just auditioning for a role that happened to be a guy that really existed," says Cohen. "So, I went in like any other any other audition. I understood, you know, where's this guy coming from? What does he want what's going on in his life"
"But I didn't know much about Jerry Lewis growing up. I mean, I kind of knew "Great Balls of Fire", and I might have known he had blond hair. But that's basically where my education on him stopped. And I really didn't grow up knowing much about the 50's rock and roll at all. So it wasn't until I got hired to play Jerry Lee that I started reading up on him, going through his discography, watching performances of him on YouTube over and over and over again. So I mean, now I know lots about him, and I loved him. But really, when I first got into this world, I knew nothing. I knew one or two of his songs, maybe."
Along with Cohen, Sam Sherwood plays Carl Perkins, Joe Boover plays Elvis Presley, Margaret Dudasik plays Diane, and Tyler Michael Breeding as Johnny Cash. Also, James David Larson as Brother Jay. I asked Cohen about their on stage chemistry, which I thought was great.
"I'm doing the show with a great group of actors, and the three other guys that play Carl, Johnny and Elvis, I mean, they're so much fun to be on stage with, and it was a really fantastic rehearsal process." says Cohen.
"The guy playing Elvis, Joe Boover, he's a very good friend of mine. He and I met doing 'Million Dollar Quartet' five or six years ago. And then the other two guys, Sam Sherwood, who plays Carl Perkins, and Tyler Michael Breeding, who plays Johnny Cash, I knew who they were, I'd heard their names and Million Dollar Quartet worlds, but so it's really nice to be able to meet them and work with them"
"It was a really amazing rehearsal process. I feel like, you know, anytime you work on 'Million Dollar Quartet' or now 'Million Dollar Quartet Christmas,' you start to develop a strong language between the performers; of how to give energy to each other. You know how to respond to each other. This has been nothing short of amazing, an amazing experience performing with these guys."
For tickets to see 'Million Dollar Quartet" at the Bucks County Playhouse click here.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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