Million Dollar Quartet Christmas

The Gilded Age

In the jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet Christmas,  which my wife and I saw at Capital Rep in Albany on November 25, “Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley come together again to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.” In this timeframe, Elvis (Luke Monday) has left Sun Records and its owner, Sam Phillips (Rob Morrison) for hits on RCA Records and Hollywood stardom. He’s there with his girlfriend Dyanne (Taylor Aronson).

Johnny  Matt Cusack) has signed with Columbia Records and experienced some country hits but not much crossover. Carl Perkins (Jeremy Sevelovitz) had a massive hit with Blue Suede Shoes, but his career was derailed by a car accident. Jerry Lee Lewis (Billy Rude) is still in the Sun stable, aching for chance of stardom.

If you’ve seen the famous photo of the Million Dollar Quartet, there was a woman sitting on the piano, Elvis’ girlfriend at the time, Marilyn Evans. It’s highly unlikely that she was as vivacious and flirty as Dyanne was, or that she was one of the singers.


None of this matters overly much. The bones of the story are largely accurate. Moreover, the musicians were fantastic. Cusack found the timbre of Cash’s voice. Monday could move like Presley. The real Perkins would be awed by Sevelovitz’s tremendous guitar work. But Rude embodied Lewis, from his manic piano playing to the youthful arrogance. Aronson’s Dyanne had a lovely voice.

The play was quite serviceable, with some clever quips. (The Day Tripper riff made sense, given the dialogue; I laughed out loud.) It is a ssequel to Million Dollar Quartet, which my wife and I saw at Proctors Theatre in January 2013. (This is why I have a blog.)

It’s a brief program, 45 minutes, then a 15-minute intermission, then another 45 minutes, the last 15 minutes or so which was a mini-concert. It was quite suitable for a holiday show.

It’s playing through December 24.

My church was a TV star

There was a watch party for the first episode of Season 2 of The Gilded Age at my church on October 29. That’s because “It’s Easter Sunday 1883… Featured amid the holiday flowers and strolling crowds are three landmark Capital Region churches. First Presbyterian Church at Willett and State streets teams up with St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 107 State St. to stand in for St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in 19th-century Manhattan…

“‘It was very cool to see. They were in our building for three weeks. They used our assembly hall as a green room,’ said the Rev. Dr. Miriam Lawrence Leupold, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

“State Street and Washington Park appear in the opening episode as the setting for the Easter parade. It starts off the eight-episode season’s continuing clash between new and old money in Gilded Age New York City over competing opera houses.  Julian Fellowes is the creator of ‘The Gilded Age.'”

It’s a show on Max, which I don’t have a subscription for. Though our church’s star turn was over in the first ten minutes, the episode itself was very compelling, especially when dealing with labor issues. I’ve always enjoyed the work of Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon, the latter of whom I once voted for governor.

Taylor’s version

In late October, I went to see the film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. It was disappointing but it’s my own fault. I went to see it at the Spectrum, a Landmark theater not geared towards the hype three weeks after it opened.

So thee were a total of three of us in the theater, two women in their 20s, and me. They had “only” seen it once before because they’d been busy.

As someone not immersed in Swiftian music, I was impressed how her albums, her Eras, changed. I wasn’t crazy about Reputation, which I learned later has an interesting backstory. But I liked the story songs of folklore. I also enjoyed some of her very early work, with her at the piano.

I agree with this review: “Overall, The Eras Tour concert film is an enjoyable and entertaining experience for any music fan, but it will especially be a blast for Taylor Swift’s fans. It is a well-made film that captures the essence and excitement of Swift’s live shows. The film has good camera work, editing, and sound design that make the viewer feel like they are part of the concert.”

But I’m still not a Swiftie.

The price of tickets were $19.89 (she was born in 1989, which I knew), but since I’m a senior, it was only $13.13, 13 being TS’s lucky number (which I somehow missed.)

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