Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Lamb’s “Million Dollar Quartet” Blazes as Memorable Experience

Ben Van Diepen, Brett Benkowski, Michael Louis Cusimano and Charles Evans Jr. Photo by Ken Jacques

If you don’t read the rest of this, know this: Go see it.

Since moving to Coronado I haven’t had the pleasure of a Lamb’s Players Theatre production. We got comfortable in our seats and reviewed the playbill inside the beautiful building with the intimate space and a charming, detailed set. The announcements were made and the lights went down to soon come up — surprising me with the cast quickly on stage and in position. I was immediately delighted and sucked back into the pure joy of community theatre-going.

It doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with only one song featured or all. If not at all you’ll become a fan of every historically-played musician in the Million Dollar Quartet cast as well as the diamond in the rough record producer who produced pure gold, er, platinum?

Michael Louis Cusimano and cast. Photo by Ken Jacques

I’ll admit, I’m easily entertained. My husband and I are both in awe of anyone who can hold a tune or beat let alone sing, dance and act with reasonable talent. But that was the best night out activity I’ve had in a long time, pulled back in time to moments I discovered Johnny Cash songs or when “Great Balls of Fire” (I didn’t even know the artist was a man named Jerry Lee Lewis) had me dancing with my neighbor friend as a six-year-old in her daylight basement.

We learned. Most couldn’t help but move, clap, cheer and whistle. And what this venue and others have had to overcome dealing with the pandemic is nothing short of cool and fueled by why art exists…to have a reason for living.

Jerry Lee Lewis isn’t the comedian but a stellar pianist who’s somehow athletic with the large instrument and can perform like a human onomatopoeia of the phrase rock ‘n roll.

There’s seemingly a little known fact about “Blue Suede Shoes” that had us Gen Y millennials shocked.

As well as some interesting theories online after researching the woman character in the show.

Plus relative gas prices or how Johnny Cash has been everywhere, are Dad jokes I loved.

Photo by Ken Jacques

The production received a strong audience response when it was first produced at Vista’s Avo Playhouse in 2019.

To set the stage in a way I think helps before you go, this article shares: On December 4, 1956 the four musical legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis met at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records studio in Memphis to share songs and record together for the first and only time. The smash musical hit is a fascinating look at that night and how they, their music and influences would change American culture forever.

Like at the end of a comic book movie, there are gemstones at the very end too.

The way the story unfolds with time rewinding and fast-forwarding in well-timed, seamless ways is a tantalizing history and musical lesson. Period pieces are tough. Musicals seem tougher. They did it.

Photo by Ken Jacques

Featuring Michael Louis Cusimano (Elvis), Bret Benowitz (Carl Perkins), Ben Van Diepen (Jerry Lee Lewis), Charles Evans Jr. (Johnny Cash), Katie Sapper (Dyanne), and Lance Arthur Smith (Sam Phillips) as well as understudies which I’m sure delight too, the cast is star-studded meaning they could all be among the stars we know more. It was written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, directed by Kerry Meads with musical direction by Patrick Marion and choreography by Colleen Smith.

Set and costume design as well as the parts played by Mackenzie Leighton (Brother Jay) and Brian Dall (Fluke) created a solid foundation of fun, added history and make you wish your children could take string or drum lessons from the backdrop yet frontrunner musicians.

The whole team behind putting the production together including sponsors and donors I give my thanks to.

Tickets range from $24 to $68, depending on the seating section and day of the week. Discounts are available for seniors (66+) and veterans. Half-price tickets are available for youth (ages 5 to 17), young adults (18 to 34) and active duty military.

Showings are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 4pm and 8pm; and Sunday at 2pm.

Note that masks are now optional, the HVAC system has been upgraded and season tickets are for sale.

Lamb’s Players Theatre
1242 Orange Ave, Coronado



Aly Lawson
Aly Lawson
Aly has a BA in mass communication, emphasizing journalism and public relations, and a MBA in marketing. She has worked as a reporter and marketer in various industries and overseas. She also won a best community business story award from the Nevada Press Association in 2017. Originally from Washington, this is her second time living in Coronado, where her husband is stationed as a Navy helicopter pilot. They have two small children and the whole family adores Coronado. Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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