Million Dollar Quartet

The packed audience at the Welk Resort theatre in Branson, Missouri got quite a show during opening night of the Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet.”

In this design-build project, Chicago Scenic was called upon to construct a majority of the musical’s set, which is scheduled to run in intervals for the next several years.

Set walls were built to resemble brick and acoustic panels and finished with a colored wash to look like the famous Sun Records studio where music icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins gathered to jam for one night and one night only.

Surrounding the stage is a custom steel proscenium comprised of 30 individual light boxes. The surround weighs in at nearly 3,000 pounds – and is rigged to fly. A hand-painted, 66-foot wide scrim displayed an introduction to the characters and plot of the famous Sam Phillips story. The signature ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ sign features two chasing rings of incandescent lights and color-changing LED lights and is rigged to fly in at the show’s finale.

Chicago Scenic lead Kevin Rutherford hand-constructed the hollow piano that encases the electric keyboard played by the Jerry Lee Lewis actor throughout the show. The Chicago Scenic team also built two durable piano benches - one as a backup - to withstand the show’s hours of rigorous dancing. “One of our biggest challenges was creating this set to be as easy to change over as possible, since it will be used vigorously for several months, dismantled and stored, and then taken out to run again for several more months,” says Project Manager Will Burns, who oversaw the project. Chicago Scenic hired Tom Ryan as the set designer; Chris Cathcart was the musical’s producer.

The musical is set to run at the Welk Resort through the end of December, with another run scheduled for October-November, 2016.

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