|I snapped this photo of the Ford Center from the orchestra pit area a few minutes before Tuesday night's performance of Million Dollar Quartet. I didn't think I would ever see this type of facility at Ole Miss!|
The musical centers on the night in 1956 that Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis got together at the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis. Their impromptu session was recorded and they were dubbed the "Million Dollar Quartet" in a Memphis Press-Scimitar new article the next day.
My father-in-law went with us. As a young man he was a member of a Nashville band that tried to make it in the music business. I think they had one song that made it into the Top 100 for one week. Although the events showcased by Million Dollar Quartet were a little before his time he loves the music and singers from this era. (And after the show he shared a story of his band opening a show for Conway Twitty and Jerry Lee Lewis in Birmingham. Lewis was most displeased with the fact that Twitty was getting top billing for the show and made his displeasure known. The promoters ended up closing the curtain on Lewis after four songs).
I'm not going to write a review of the musical except to say that I enjoyed it. You can read that elsewhere. I will say I agree with the Lexington Herald-Leader's view that John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis looks the least like the star he is portraying but does the best job of acting and sounding like him.
I have been lucky in getting theatre seats lately, and somehow managed to get front-row seats for last night's show. I bought them fairly late, and I must have gotten online at exactly the right time as some Orchestra Pit seats were released.
Yet the Ford Center is full of good seats. I never go in it that I am not amazed that the second-smallest university in the SEC in the smallest college town in the SEC has a performing arts center that is among the very best to be found not only at any SEC school, but at any university, period. I'm sure there are bigger and better, but when the size of our university and our town are taken into account the Ford Center is just as good as it gets.
The Ford Center seats 1,250. By way of comparison the Orpheum in Memphis seats 2,500. But 1,250 seats is enough to bring in some good shows, and as much as I like the Orpheum I'd rather see a show at the Ford Center.
Tuesday night's performance was a sell-out, although there were a few empty seats due to bad weather. Tonight there is a performance by Widespread Panic's "JoJo" Herman in the studio theatre. It, too, is sold out. A look at the Ford Center's upcoming events calendar shows that the facility will be put to good use over the next few months for campus events, concerts, and even a high school musical.
If you haven't been to an event at the Ford Center, I suggest you put it on your "bucket list." You'll enjoy the show, and just as important you'll enjoy the facility.