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Magnus Theatre Million Dollar Quartet


Magnus Theatre Million Dollar Quartet
Magnus Theatre Million Dollar Quartet

THUNDER BAY, ON  -  September 15, 2016 (LSN) Thunder Bay’s Magnus Theatre has a stellar production in its hands. I attended the very sold out Monday evening performance and right from the start I am going to recommend this show. This show is all about the music, but there is a story behind it as well that may in general terms reflect some of the actual happening of a December night in 1956.

Danny Johnson is the musical director of this show, and by now Magnus patrons know that any show he is involved with is bound to be a success, remember “Two Pianos four Hands”? The scene of this play reflects the very beginnings of rock & roll. A lone wolf producer and owner of Sun Records (played by Danny Johnson) had a dream and a talent. His talent was to spot the diamonds in the rough, and he brought well known names such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Perkins brothers to stardom.

It was a once in a lifetime occasion, and they were all brought together for a night of music making one December night. Sam Walters was also hoping to sign his artists to another contract. His dreams come crashing down when he discovers that they have all signed on with the big recording labels, except for the young Mr. Lewis. I found the story interesting, but really this show is all about the music. For an older audience, this show is a great trip down memory lane, one hit after another comes from this professional crew on stage. The last time I heard Johnny Cash on a recording he could not sing in tune even with the help of a modern studio, but this Johnny Cash can.

As the show progressed, and I saw more piano playing Jerry Lewis style, I wondered if the piano would make it to the end of this production run. The theatre did not break the bank procuring a good piano for this show.

The production is one of the last by Mario Crudo, or perhaps it is the first of his post retirement career, I am not sure which, but there is no holding back when it comes to presenting a dynamic performance. This is a great script to bring to any stage, the music is classic and the performance is certainly better than the real musicians could have done. I very much enjoyed the effective lighting and the 1950 style microphones and stage equipment. The back stage staff at Magnus are equally good as the performers.

For some reason while growing up, I became immersed and loved classical music, I still do. I never really understood the popular side of music, a  nd it turns out that I could never understand the lyrics. With the background to the music provided, and the most excellent sound system and new batteries in my hearing aids, I really heard much of this music for the very first time, and I want to thank Magnus for that experience.

As I was walking from my parked car in the St. Paul’s Church parking lot, you could feel this warm and muggy September weather. On entering the theatre about twenty five minutes past seven, the heat and humidity immediately intensified. Most modern production facilities have some sort of air conditioning, or at least some ventilation, and I am sure the audience would have appreciated a puff of fresh air during the performance. On the way back to my car, the cooler air and a few drops of rain felt very refreshing. A small complaint to be sure but this show should not be missed.
The show runs from September 12 – 24, call the box office now at 345 -5552 to reserve your seat before they are gone.

Bert Rowson
Arts Editor:

Magnus Theatre


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