On Dec. 4, 1956, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered at Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn., for an impromptu recording session.
"Million Dollar Quartet," a musical written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott that brings that legendary night to life, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
The musical starts out with Carl Perkins, who is about to record songs with Jerry Lee Lewis when Elvis Presley stops by, along with his girlfriend Dyanne (in the real session, however, Elvis' girlfriend was a dancer named Marilyn), at the Sun Records studio. Johnny Cash also has stopped by to talk to head of the record company Sam Phillips, who attempts to re-sign Cash to a new contract and is unaware Cash already has signed with Columbia Records. The group soon ends up holding a jam session together.
Vince Nappo, who plays Sam Phillips in "Million Dollar Quartet," said the musical is "like an exploration of Sam Phillips' journey as the head of Sun Records; an exploration of a guy who was really influential in rock 'n' roll."
"Sam is a sort of narrator at times. You see elements of Sam, that he helped find the outlet for these guys to express themselves," Nappo also said. The real-life Sam Phillips opened Sun Records in 1952, and was responsible for first discovering and recording the talents of Lewis, Presley, Perkins and Cash. Some of the hits that will be performed during the musical are "Blue Suede Shoes," "Fever," "That's All Right," "Who Do You Love?" and "Folsom Prison Blues," among others.
Nappo said that a lot of work goes into the production of this particular musical.
"There's a lot of people travelling with the performing group, a big group of fantastic crew people and understudies that the audience never sees," Nappo said. "We're a very tight group. It can be a very fun show. I feel very lucky to be on the road."
The audience can relate the most to Cash, in Nappo's opinion. Cash is relatable because "he was always very active. He's so much in our focus."
As far as his own personal musical background, Nappo stated that his parents are "very big Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley fans," but that he barely knew anything about Perkins when he started work on the musical.
"My manager and I are new to each other, and he came to me with the part for the musical," Nappo said. "It was tough; I joined them in the last six months of the tour."
As for Nappo's own personal career, he has performed in a lot of plays in the past, and even performed on a television show last year, as Vincent in ABC's drama series "Red Widow."
"I did my first big TV gig last year for ABC on 'Red Widow.' I finished shooting 'Red Widow' three days before starting on 'Million Dollar Quartet,' " he said.
For this leg of the tour, "Million Dollar Quartet" will be performing in 74 cities over a period of eight months. The musical had first opened in Broadway in 2010, and the national tour began in 2011.
" We've got a really great group; it's sort of rare where you have a group where everyone is close. I'm excited we have more of the tour to go," Nappo said.
Tickets are on sale, and those interested in prices and seating location can call the Community Arts Center at 570-326-2424 or visit www.caclive.com.