Mumbai: Rock 'n' Roll icons come to town
The Tony Award winning Broadway run will be performing for a Mumbai audience for the first time
The 1950s was a cult era that gave the world its rock 'n' roll icons. On the night of December 4, 1956, four legends — Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis — met at Sun Records Studios in Memphis to play together for the first and the only time ever. There are theories about record producer Sam Phillips orchestrating it by arranging Elvis to visit, as a bait to lure Cash who had been avoiding Phillips. A leading entertainment editor of that time wrote a piece about this jamming session the following day, titled The Million Dollar Quartet, coining a term for this chance encounter. Order of the British Empire-awarded-director Ian Talbot will soon recreate that session on stage with his Broadway style musical, for the first time in India. The musical will tell the story of this historic recording session and will include 20 songs from that night such as Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Great Balls of Fire, Fever, I Walk the Line and more.
Talbot says, "We had to choose musicians who had the ability to play the songs. This was the job for the musical director. I then stepped in and auditioned the actors. It is not just a concert. Many members of the audiences have found it deeply moving, especially when they discovered that the story is true." Actor Rhys Whitfield who plays the King of Rock, Elvis Presley, says, "Playing someone as iconic as Elvis is a real honour and a thrill. He holds a special place for so many people, so I'm very conscious of that. But, in this story, he also plays a specific part at a specific time in his life. The challenge for me is balancing the two, and give the audience a new insight into his life." It was not easy for Whitfield to get into the groove of Presley's style. "He has a particular way of moving. It's very high energy and never really stops. It can also be very unpredictable — sometimes he's slow or completely still and tense, and sometimes he's very loose and free — which is probably what makes it so entertaining!" he adds. Whitfield watched as much footage of Presley from that time, as he could get his hands on. "I tried to overload on it so that it would (hopefully) filter through to me without me realising."
The makers have ensured that the set retains a 50s look. "This nightout is very nostaligic for the older generation. The younger groups will find it infectious and heart-lifting. My personal favourites from the musical are Great Balls Of Fire and Blue Suede Shoes. They bring back memories of my childhood and the clubs I used to visit."
When: December 13 to 24
Where: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA
Cost: Rs.500 – Rs.8,000
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli