On December 4, 1956, four young musicians -- Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins -- gathered at the Sun Records recording studio in Memphis, Tenn., for a jam session to beat all other jam sessions.
It was the only time the rock 'n' roll icons would ever record together. But that night and its full story are re-created in Million Dollar Quartet, the hit musical that has its Boston premiere at the Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre Oct. 8-20.
"It just sort of happened -- Jerry Lee Lewis was the session pianist. Elvis was already a star and home on vacation. Johnny Cash had had a hit with his 'Folsom Prison Blues' and Carl had sold a million copies of his 'Blue Suede Shoes,' " said James Barry, who plays Perkins in the show.
The term Million Dollar Quartet was coined by the local newspaper and the recording session was eventually released on CD in 1990.
For Barry, it's a dream come true as an actor and a musician to play Perkins.
"We do some great a cappella work and the actor playing Sam Phillips (Sun Records owner) acts as the narrator, providing a lot of biographical information," said Barry. "Perkins was feeling very bitter towards Elvis, since he (Perkins) had written and recorded 'Blue Suede Shoes' first, but Elvis was performing it on national TV."
Besides "Blue Suede Shoes," the score includes such classics as "Fever," "Walk the Line," "Sixteen Tons," "Great Balls of Fire," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Hound Dog" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
Barry loves doing this show. But he also is working on another piece -- an original rap musical -- with Kyle Fabel and playwright Bill Donnelly.
Fabel, who directs many shows at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, including the current God of Carnage, is a good friend of Barry's ever since they worked together at the Berkshire Theatre Festival.
"I am a huge Kyle Fabel fan," said Barry.
He is also a Lowell Spinners fan and would love to do a play at the MRT.
"I love Lowell and hope to do a show there at some point," he said.
For tickets and information, visit boston.broadway.com/tickets/show/6867.
On the marquee
- WEST END WONDER: Four handsome, fun-loving leading men from London's West End bring Teatro to the Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St., Stoneham, in its American premiere Oct. 4-6. The ensemble will present their renditions of such Broadway hits as "Music of the Night," "Memory" and "I Dreamed A Dream," which are all featured on their best-selling album. Performances on Friday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 5, 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 6, 2 p.m. $45-$50 at stonehamtheatre.org.
- BAD BOYS OF COMEDY: Tickets go on sale Friday, Oct. 4, for Penn & Teller, the so-called bad boys of comedy and magic, who will perform three shows only on Friday, Jan. 24, and Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, at the Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre. $35-$75 at citicenter.org or call 866-348-9738.
- BOSTON NEWS: Huntington Theatre Company announced that its production of The Jungle Book is now the most successful production in its 31-year history, grossing $1,584,263 to date with three weeks remaining in its run, before it closes on Oct. 20. Tickets are still available at huntingtontheatre.org ... ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage continues its fourth season with the world premiere of Baritones UnBound: Celebrating the UnCommon Voice of the Common Man, Oct. 8-20, at Paramount Center Mainstage, 559 Washington St. The new work features three baritones performing a musical tour of the baritone voice through history, including show tunes, opera and popular music. Tickets from $25 on sale at artsemerson.org or 617-824-8400.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is email@example.com.