Seat Filler: ’s Guide to Theater
BY Brandon Voss
May 04 2010 1:00 PM ET
On December 4, 1956, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley met for an impromptu jam session in the Memphis recording studio of Sun Records, where the four rock legends got their starts. That auspicious occasion is being re-created, albeit with much artistic license, in Million Dollar Quartet, a jumpin’ jukebox musical at the Nederlander Theatre. The plot’s predictably thin, but the strikingly spot-on cast — Lance Guest as Cash, Levi Kreis as Lewis, Robert Britton Lyons as Perkins, and Eddie Clendening as Presley — plays their own instruments. Many numbers are interrupted by needless narration from Hunter Foster as Sun founder Sam Phillips before the studio walls finally retract for an electrifying encore concert, where out singer-songwriter Kreis practically burns down the house with his flamboyant balls of fire.
Sitting across from Neil Patrick Harris at the St. James Theatre during a recent performance of American Idiot, the punk opera largely adapted from the 2004 Green Day album, I came up with a sitcom title for my theatergoing experience: How I Became Your Mother. Seriously, when did Broadway get so loud? And how did these wayward suburban posers get so annoying? If I’d never seen Rent or Spring Awakening, of which American Idiot is unapologetically derivative — right down to a “Mimi” and an elevated sex platform — I might’ve dug Green Day’s 90-minute live music video, but it won’t get a 21-gun salute from me. Gay director Michael Mayer, who wrote the book with Billie Joe Armstrong, told Out about queer story lines like “a love triangle” involving lead rebel Johnny and St. Jimmy, his androgynous drug dealer, but I didn’t get that at all.
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