Rocking up a storm these nights in "Million Dollar Quartet" at the Nederlander Theatre in New York are two gifted actor-musicians who made the big leap from Issaquah to Broadway.
Rocking up a storm these nights at the Nederlander Theatre in New York are two gifted actor-musicians who made the big leap from Issaquah to Broadway.
They are Levi Kreis and Seattle native Rob Lyons, co-stars of the rollicking revue “Million Dollar Quartet,” based on an actual 1956 studio jam session by the young Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.
Lyons and Kreis were both in the show when it hit gold with Village Theatre audiences in Issaquah and Everett in 2007 — an especially eventful stand for Kreis (now up for a Tony Award for his blazing turn as piano-man-rocker Jerry Lee Lewis).
“At the Village I was vaulting over the piano during our encore one night, didn’t land right, and tore a knee ligament that had to be replaced,” notes the gregarious former child evangelist and established singer-songwriter.
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The accident ended Kreis’ gymnastic antics but didn’t keep a good entertainer down: “I just put on a leg brace and finished the run.” (Kreis later tore a ligament in the other knee while doing “Million Dollar Quartet” in Chicago.)
Lyons, who plays the seminal rockabilly star Carl Perkins in the musical, has evaded injury. And this adept instrumentalist and vocalist is thrilled that years of playing in an array of Seattle bands (and paying the rent with assorted day jobs) has finally paid off.
“Not a day goes by when I’m not humbled by doing this,” he says. “It’s a real honor.”
Lyons, who was in the Village’s original workshop production of the piece in 2006, says he benefited from “developing the role of Carl Perkins over years. I’ve become infinitely familiar with the character, and I have a comfort with it.”
His interpretation was vindicated when Stan Perkins, the late musician’s son, saw the show and told him, “My old man would have smiled.”
Kreis has yet to meet up with Lewis, now in his 70s and still out there smacking the ivories. But Kreis’ ebullience and delight onstage as the young, naive Lewis are genuine.
“I play him as he’s just starting it out,” Kreis muses. “I try to convey his joy in knowing what he has to offer, and offering it innocently and openly.”
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org