Downey's Emmy Award-winning actor David Lago isn't exactly trying to follow in Elvis Presley's footsteps, but his next gig calls for him to actually step into Elvis' shoes when Elvis was a youthful 21-year old on the threshold of stardom.Beginning Wednesday, Lago performs as Elvis Presley in the Chicago production of "Million Dollar Quartet," a 90-minute 'family-friendly', rock 'n' roll recreation of that rarest of star alignments that occurred on Dec. 4, 1956 when Elvis, a guy named Johnny Cash, and two other would-be pop music greats, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, got together at Sun Records' storefront studio in Memphis for an impromptu recording session that turned into what Lago's publicist calls "one of the greatest rock jam sessions of all time." This production is actually an extension of "Million Dollar Quartet's" successful (some say spectacular) 15-month run at Chicago's Apollo Theatre. Its original cast and crew have moved on to Broadway where "Million Dollar Quartet" will be performed at the Nederlander Theatre, opening on April 11, with previews scheduled beginning on March 13. Notwithstanding his early successes on TV (he has been nominated for an Emmy five times, winning in 2005 for his role as Raul in "The Young and the Restless", and had a recurring role as Jeremy in "7th Heaven") and film (he has starred in and/or produced several indie films, including his latest, not-yet-released acting vehicle in "Deeper and Deeper"), landing Elvis' role in "Million Dollar Quartet" is huge ("a mega break") for Lago. In a phone interview, he says he's working hard at his 6-hour/day rehearsals in ("b-r-r-r-r…") cold Chicago. Lago realizes his big chance and hopes to maximize his contribution to the show's enormous potential. "Even before we've started," he says, "shows are getting sold out. I feel good about the whole thing. Elvis is one of my idols. It's very exciting." Lago says the whole production is geared towards entertaining people of all ages. To capture and project Elvis' essence will be his key. Born and raised in Downey, where he was schooled at OLPH, St. John Bosco and Warren High, David early on played drums and the guitar, and sang with his band, Panacea. His professional career started to intensify when he was a sophomore, he says. He was at one time the Holiday Lane Parade grand marshal (2000), and was a guest of honor as "one of the celebrities born at DRMC" at last October's Downey Regional Medical Center gala held at the Disneyland Hotel. His dad, Peter Lago, has enjoyed a longtime legal career here in Downey. Family and relatives - from various points in California, Miami, and Tampa - are flying in for "Million Dollar Quartet's" Wednesday opening. The show is scheduled to run until May 30, but David is of course hoping for an extended run. The rest of the ensemble cast includes fellow actor-musicians: 24-year old Texas native and rockabilly musician Lance Lipinsky (Jerry Lee Lewis), understudy Gabe Bowling (Carl Perkins) of Wisconsin, and actor and musician Sean Sullivan (Johnny Cash) of Ohio. Sam Phillips, considered the father of rock 'n' roll who "discovered them all and made it all happen," is played by veteran Chicago actor Tim Decker, while Elvis' girlfriend Dyanne (at the time) is played by Fullerton Civic Light Opera's (among others) Kelly Lamont, a native of Chicago. The production is directed by Eric Schaeffer, co-founder and artistic director of the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. More information about other crew and staff is available at www.milliondollarquartetlive.com. Lago's publicist, Michael Conley, also attended OLPH. He says David is very grateful to everybody who's had a hand in "Million Dollar Quartet's" production. They'll even be more grateful, he says, if multitudes see the show.
********** Published: January 29, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 41