Review: Paramount Theatre presents electrifying version of 'Million Dollar Quartet'

By ERIC SCHELKOPF - eschelkopf@shawmedia.com Published: Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 5:30 a.m. CDT
Paramount Theatre’s 2017-18 Broadway Series opener "Million Dollar Quartet" stars, from left, Gavin Rohrer as Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Scott Sheets as Johnny Cash, Kavan Hashemian as Elvis Presley and Adam Wesley Brown as Carl Perkins. The show will run through Oct. 29 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. — Photo by Liz Lauren

AURORA – There aren’t many musical moments bigger than the one that occurred on Dec. 4, 1956, when Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley – who were all in their early 20s at the time – came together for a jam session at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Paramount Theatre, at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora, recreates that night in electrifying fashion in its joyful version of “Million Dollar Quartet,” which runs through Oct. 29. Thanks to an immensely talented cast, it doesn’t take long for the audience to be pulled into the magic that is being made on stage.

The audience is made to feel like they are part of that moment through interaction with the cast members.

Standout performances abound, including that of Gavin Rohrer, who is making his Paramount debut in the role of Lewis. He brought the energy early with a unrestrained version of “Wild One.”

Rohrer is dazzling behind the piano and is just as impressive in imitating Lewis’ frantic stage antics.

Kavan Hashemian’s dead-on performance as Presley shows he studied Presley’s concert footage in order to give a performance as authentic as possible. Not surprisingly, he was named “The World’s #1 Rock ‘N Roll Elvis” by the BBC in a television competition filmed in London.

But standing taller than even their performances is Bill Scott Sheets’ take on Cash. He embodies the sound and spirit of Cash, right down to his rich bass-baritone voice.

Apart from the music, it is the interaction between the characters that makes this production so entertaining. Because most of us have only seen these musicians perform on their own, it is interesting to see how they got along with each other (or didn’t, in some cases).

The Paramount Theatre produces another win with its version of “Million Dollar Quartet.” Tickets are available by calling the Paramount at 630-896-6666 or visiting its website, www.paramountaurora.com.

• Eric Schelkopf writes about the arts and entertainment scene in Chicago at http://thetotalscene.blogspot.com. He also is an employee of Shaw Media.