Meet Suzanna Champion in Million Dollar Quartet

 By Leslie Simon

When you are performing with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, you might think it would be very easy to get upstaged. Despite all these talented legends in the Arvada Center’s current production of Million Dollar Quartet, it’s all eyes on Suzanna Champion every time she is on stage. We spoke to Champion recently about what it was like preparing for this role, how it compares to her real-life work as a recording artist, and what it’s like to be home in Colorado again.

 

Suzanna Champion in Million Dollar Quartet, photo by Leslie Simon

Q: What is it like to be representing the women up there with so much rock ‘n’ roll testosterone?

SC: It’s such a blast to be the only girl up there! I think the energy of the show changes when Dyanne and Elvis enter, and it is fun to be the one to bring a little sass, flirtation, and femininity to the room. It’s also a huge honor! I’m blown away every night by the talent of the boys around me, and when Dyanne is snapping and dancing and smiling along, it doesn’t require any acting at all!

Q: While Elvis did bring a woman with him (who is seen in the uncropped version of the famous photo), her name was not Dyanne. How did you approach taking on a character only partially based in reality?

SC: It gave me a lot of freedom to know that the writers had already taken liberty with the character, and that I wasn’t bound to an impersonation. I don’t feel the same pressure as the quartet does to be an accurate imitation. Her name was Marilyn Evans- she was a dancer from Las Vegas, and she and Elvis were in a new relationship. I approached the role with an awareness of who she was and women of the era, while also allowing myself to follow my instincts of who Dyanne in the show needs to be. She’s confident, sexy, and bold, and yet also empathetic to the relationship dynamics in the room. We see that in her interactions with the men, and how she influences them - especially with Sam Phillips.

Q: When you sing “Fever” you can hear a pin drop; the audience is so tuned in. How does being in the pretend recording studio compare to your real professional recording experience?

SC: Thank you! I love singing that song. I think that the pretend studio on stage is quite different from a real studio. For one thing, a real studio tends to be a very relaxed and casual environment because you know that you can do as many takes as you need- the pressure is low! Of course on stage, we are aware that we have one shot to get it right each night, and that there are hundreds of people watching!

 

Q: Any funny unexpected moments from rehearsal or onstage that you would like to share?

SC: Well, in the song “Long Tall Sally” Dyanne adds some maracas. The other night, I wasn’t holding on tight enough, and one went flying across the stage. Who knew maracas were such a hazardous object!!

 

Q: Colorado is so happy that you have moved back home. What did you miss most about your home state?

SC: I’m so glad to be home! I missed my family and community here- it has been so much fun to have my family and people who were important to me when I was growing up get to come see the show. The other night, the family I babysat for in high school came to see the show (and the kids are 17 and 20 now!) so those moments are really special. And since I have been teaching in Denver, a lot of my high school students have come out to support me, and that has been a really cool thing for me as a teacher. Of course, the mountains aren’t bad either!

All production photos in this story by Leslie Simon

Home,Reignite the Arts,Art at Home,Support Arvada Center Artists,Virtual Auction,Donate Now,Corporate Giving,Subscribe,AC Flex Package,YP Access,Full Classic Package,Four Play Package,Three Musical Package,Visit Us,View All Events,Gift Certificates,Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express,Beth Malone Sings at the Arvada Center,528.0 Regional Juried Printmaking Exhibition,Imprint: Print Educators of Colorado,Trifles: A Radio Play,Dracula: A Radio Play,Pink Progression: Collaborations,A Child’s Christmas In Wales,The Family Tree,Stories and Songs to Celebrate the Season,Black in Denver,Buyer and Cellar,Amplify curated by Betty Hart,Our Favorite Things: A Musical Retrospective,Christie Con,Amplify curated by Bobby LeFebre,The Great Gatsby: A Radio Play,Carley Warren: Three Pieces,Wood.Works,Small Mouth Sounds,Amplify curated by Lynne Holman,Race and the Myth of Rock'n'Roll,Million Dollar Quartet,Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Presents ReFlect-ReClaim,The Sweet Lillies,Sylvia,Kinky Boots,An Evening with Yumi Hwang-Williams,Jack Hadley Band and Anthony Russo Band,Jeffrey Siegel: Music for the Young and Young At Heart,Singer-Songwriter Feature with Dechen Hawk and Thom LaFond,Space Funk Jerry: A Jerry Garcia Tribute,Robert Cray,Asleep At The Wheel,The Delta Sonics,Denver Brass: Totally Awesome Summer Mix,Taylor Scott Band,Colin Hay,Dream Ensemble,Jeffrey Siegel: Music of Joy and Peace,I Do! I Do!,Word Play,Roland Bernier: In Other Words,The Liar,Animal Farm,Stick Fly,Face Vocal Band,Chicago: Student Edition,Melody Epperson: 100 + 1: Women and the Vote,Brady Smith: (Don’t be embarrassed by) your trouble with living,Mozart Under Moonlight with your Colorado Symphony,Viral Influence Art in the Time of Coronavirus,An Evening Under the Stars with the Colorado Ballet,Carlou D,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra: Horn Bands of the 60s & 70s,Elf - The Musical,Dining Partners,Amplify,Amplify Performers,Theatre,main stage musicals,Black Box Plays,Theatre for Children,Auditions,Million Dollar Quartet Auditions,Yesterado Auditions,Elf the Musical Auditions,Holiday Plays,Galleries,Current Exhibitions,Wood.Works Know Before You Go,Gallery Events,Upcoming Exhibitions,Art Sales,Art Submissions,Viral Influence Call for Entry,Art of the State Submissions,Sculpture Field,History Museum,Art Market,Education,Dance Class FAQ,View All Classes,Summer Camps,FAQ,Full Day,Summer Camp Performances,Classes for Kids,Classes for Adults,Ceramics,Front Range Youth Symphony,Dance Academy,For Educators,Arts Day,Arts Day Outreach,Ageless Adults,Scholarships,Teen Intensive 2021,Yesterado,Music and Dance,Jeffrey Siegel,Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra,Summer Concerts,Front Porch Series,AEDA Summer Concerts,Humanities,On Their Shoulders We Stand,Private Event Rentals,Humans of the Arvada Center,Straight Talk Series ,Straight Talk with Philip Sneed,COVID’s toll on Colorado theatre: 224 productions and counting ,Straight Talk with Lynne Collins,Straight Talk with Rod Lansberry,Straight Talk with Phamaly, Buntport, Colorado Shakes and Rocky Mountain Rep,Straight Talk with Creede Rep, Town Hall, Candlelight and Theatre Company of Lafayette,Straight Talk with Aurora Fox, BDT Stage, Cherry Creek Theatre and Misfits,Straight Talk with Su Teatro, Vintage, Backstage and Counterweight,Straight Talk with Local Theater Company, Theater 29, The Source and Equinox,Straight Talk with the Denver Center, Jesters Dinner Theatre, Glenwood Vaudeville Revue and Germinal Stage-Denver,Actors' union issues safety guidelines for re-opening,Straight Talk with square product, Forge Light, Springs Ensemble Theatre and Coal Creek Theatre of Louisville,Straight Talk with the Fine Arts Center, Miners Alley Playhouse, Dangerous Theatre and Lone Tree Arts Center ,Straight Talk with Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and Northglenn Arts,Straight Talk with The Catamounts, Bas Bleu and Thingamajig,Straight Talk with Curious Theatre Company,Straight Talk with OpenStage, Firehouse and Adams Mystery Playhouse,Straight Talk with Platte Valley Players and Theatreworks,Straight Talk with Parker Arts, Stories on Stage and Thunder River ,Staight Talk 2 with Philip Sneed: This much is uncertain,Pivoting With,Pivoting with The Black Actors Guild,Pivoting with ... Emily Van Fleet and Nathan Jones,Pivoting With ... Tammy Franklin and the Curtain Playhouse,Pivoting With Nick Sugar and the Town Hall Arts Center,Pivoting With Helen Murray and the Aurora Fox,Pivoting with Edith Weiss and Christy Montour Larson,Pivoting With Scott RC Levy and the Fine Arts Center Theatre Company,Pivoting with Todd Debrecini for Halloween,Pivoting with Ashley Campbell,Pivoting with Meghan Anderson Doyle,Pivoting with Jenna Moll Reyes,Pivoting with Erik Fellenstein,Pivoting with Ray Bailey ,Pivoting with Tara Falk,Community News,Inside the Arvada Center,Barbra Streisand,Governor's mask mandate does not apply to Candlelight actors,Pink Progression: Collaborations: Grow Love and Moe Gram,Director's Notes: A Midsummer Night's Dream,All About Printmaking Techniques,Watercolor Class,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Collin Parson ,Arvada Center Makes Masks,Earth Day Craft,Christina Noel-Adcock,"Bright Star" cast unveils video as message of hope,Podcast: B+ with Geoffrey Kent and Jessica Austgen ,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Christine Moore,Humans of the Arvada Center: Steven Cogswell,Humans of the Arvada Center: Ashi K. Smythe,City of Arvada to install new sculpture in Hoskinson Park,Humans of the Arvada Center Jessie Page,Here are the 2019-20 Henry Award nominations,Arvada Center to Offer Students World’s First Zoom Musical,Humans of the Arvada Center Cal Meakins,Humans of the Arvada Center: Adam Stolte,Supreme Court workplace ruling hits home for Lisa Leafgreen,'Time for talk is over': Arvada Center launch 'Amplify' series to raise black male voices,Humans of the Arvada Center Jon Olson ,The 5 Most Screwed Job Titles in COVID-era theatre,June in Colorado Theatre: 'The Reckoning' has begun,New Arvada Center, Aurora Fox seasons reflect current complexities,It's virtually impossible not to have fun in our summer camps,News roundup: Who The Denver Actor's Fund DEAR Fund has helped,Humans of the Arvada Center: Abygail Rosales,Pink Progression Collaborations: Jina Brenneman and Margaret Kasahara,Pink Progression: Julia Rymer and Drew Austin,Revealing The Dialogue,Amplify Epiode 3 launches, series expanding to include black women,Colorado Springs reaches the Mountaintop at 2020 Henry Awards,Photo Blog: Sweeney Todd Rehearsals,Humans of the Arvada Center: Gabriel Morales,Deeper Dive: A closer look at Million Dollar Quartet,Deeper Dive: A closer look at Small Mouth Sounds,Pink Progression: Sangeeta Reddy and Jodie Roth Cooper,Deeper Dive: A closer look at Private Lives,Front Porch Series Kickoff,Cleo Parker Robinson dances back in the box with Arvada Center,Amplify turns the mic over to local Black women ,Beth Malone bringing 'joy bomb' to Arvada Center oon September 4,Theatre news: Live streaming panel Monday on a big new 'Idea',Deeper Dive: A closer look at They're Playing Our Song,Humans of the Arvada Center: Meet Emily King,Amplify Women Episode 2,Special Book Honors Special Dance Teacher,Arvada Center pivots to radio-play series for fall ,amplify-series-comes-to-powerful-conclusion,Denver Film moving forward with longer, smaller, virtual 2020 festival ,How COVID is impacting individual artists,Take a stroll through 'Sculpture in the Field',Arts In Education Week,Colorado Theatre News: Miscast pivots to CAST ,Essay: Was the Aurora Fox a safe house on Opening Night? ,Lessons from a summer of outdoor theatre in the time of COVID ,Humans of the Arvada Center: John Hamilton,Theatre news of the week: DCPA launches Recovery Fund,Zachary Andrews take a one-man bite out of 'Dracula',Trick Art Treat coming to Arvada Center parking lot ,What to do? Theatre happenings for October 16,Spotlight Manos Soap,Doreen Montalvo in Denver: Compassion and grit,What to do: Theatre happenings for October 23,Betty Hart's presidential promise: Build a bigger tent,Theatre happenings October 30,Virtual theatre sprouts a new branch with Arvada Center's 'The Family Tree',Humans of the Arvada Center: Brenna Clendaniel and Sophia Koop,Theatre happenings November 12,the barnstormers are back,On being Black in Denver and all the colors that it brings,Getting to Know: Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales,Theatre happenings November 19: Companies entering cancellation mode,A Married Couple's Christmas in Wales,2021 in live theatre: A look into the Crystal Ball,Senior Art Kits,2020 True West Awards: Buntpivot ,2020 True West Awards: Lily Bradford,2020 True West Awards: The Scenesters,2020 True West Awards: Podcastic,2020 True West Awards: Phamaly takes 'Honk' to Japan,2020 True West Awards: Christine Moore,2020 True West Awards: Alive Inside,2020 True West Awards: Michael Ensminger,True West Awards: They Wrote the Book,True West Awards: Rent-A-Pals,True West Awards: Of Spacious Skies,True West Awards: Christopher Page-Sanders,2020 True West Awards: Suffer the little children,2020 True West Awards: Spirit of Giving,2020 True West Awards: Secret Gardeners,2020 True West Awards: Denis Berkfeldt,2020 True West Awards: Amplify,2020 True West Awards: Reclaiming One Star,2020 True West Awards: William Hahn and Jessica Robblee,2020 True West Awards: Lisa Wagner Erickson,'The Family Tree affords actors rare chance to work during pandemic,SCFD: New picture of COVID carnage on metro nonprofits,New Arvada Center video offers diverse slate of holiday stories,20 for 20,Meet the Frasers,Bev Newcomb-Madden: Colorado's feisty, ferocious fairy godmother passes away ,Lucy Roucis' final act is a gutpunch,Reunite the Arts Collin Parson,Jodie Steeves and Nancy Terry,International Women's Day,Reunite the Arts Lisa Leafgreen,The Con Must Go On,Clear Fork Cider Spotlight,Remembering John Gratkins,Reunite the Arts: From our CEO,Adapting the Great Gatsby,Small Mouth Sounds returns,Danielle Johnson Q&A,Reunite the Arts Lynne Collins,The Show Must Go On,Diana and Mike Kinsey,Get to Know Kazu Oba,Reunite the Arts Rod Lansberry,Meet Suzanna Champion,Getting to know Eric Many Winds Herrera and Red Feather Woman,The Gear of Million Dollar Quartet,Music for the Young and Young at Heart,Arts Advocacy,Volunteer,About Us,Ticketing Policies,Contact Us,Ticket discounts,Accessiblity,Health and Safety,Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access,Digital Magazine,Careers,Tours,Errors,404,Temp,Virtual Theatre FAQ,New Website ,Pink Progression Events,On Demand Troubleshooting,Blog,Lorem ipsum,Lorem ipsum 2,Newk’s,Steuben’s Arvada,The Family Tree FAQ,Home for the Holidays,Land Acknowledgement,The Family Tree Dining Offers