Last month was notable for two performance events that, in their eccentricity, provided almost as much food for thought as masterworks would.
We don’t usually get struck by musical and dramatic inspiration in a department store. But outside Macy’s in Chicago we were tipped off that a performance of The Million Dollar Quartet would be boppin’ there at noon. Being a “jukebox musical,” about Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins jamming one day in 1956 at Sun Records Studios, in Memphis, one might imagine it coming across as simply a shrewdly and soullessly calculated geezer trap.But the subtext of a glut of talent, going after every scrap, results here in a cast delivering desperate and thrilling surges of the best they have in them. (Teasing the rather quiet audience into a bit of rowdiness, the Elvis of the hour quips, “Ah know yuh got it in yeah!”
The actress playing Elvis’ girlfriend for the day is Heather Marie Marsden; and she boosts the guys’ juke-box frenzy into a comprehensive impact of dusty back roads and a clutch of sweethearts with very few options. Her singing voice is one thing—reedy and blue-collar. But it is her quietly sexy back-up moves with that tambourine which magically bring back an all-but-forgotten poetry of the past.
The ballet, Rodin, undertakes, with great technique and spirit, the fascinating formation of sculptural stillness from out of impassioned motion. As such it poses profound reflections upon the dynamic nature of human materiality.