Tony Award Winner Levi Kreis Exits Million Dollar Quartet Early Due to Injury

News   Tony Award Winner Levi Kreis Exits Million Dollar Quartet Early Due to Injury
Tony Award winner Levi Kreis has departed the Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet ahead of schedule, due to an injury that the actor-musician sustained March 3.

Levi Kreis
Levi Kreis Photo by Joan Marcus

Kreis, an original cast member of the Chicago premiere of Million Dollar Quartet, repeated his work as Jerry Lee Lewis for the Broadway engagement, earning the 2010 Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony Award.

He was scheduled to play his final performance March 15, but representatives for the production informed that the actor-musician sustained an undisclosed injury (not sustained during a performance) and played his final performance March 3. He will not return to the production.

Kreis said in a statement, "Due to an injury, I won't be able to perform my final show in Million Dollar Quartet. I'm very disappointed that I won't be able to take the stage one last time as Jerry Lee Lewis."

During Kreis' absence, understudy David Abeles has performed the role of rock pianist Jerry Lee Lewis. Jared Mason, who currently plays Carl Perkins, will step into the role of Lewis March 15. Mason has been part of the ensemble since the 1950s-set jukebox musical arrived on Broadway last spring.

Eric Hayden will take over the role of Carl Perkins March 15 until original cast member Robert Britton Lyons, who is currently starring in the London production, returns to the Broadway production at a date to be announced. Million Dollar Quartet also features Eddie Clendening as Elvis Presley and Lance Guest as Johnny Cash. The Broadway cast also features Corey Kaiser as Jay Perkins, Larry Lelli as Fluke, James Moye as music producer Sam Phillips and Elizabeth Stanley (Cry-Baby, Company, Xanadu) as Dyanne, a woman who arrives at Sun Records with Elvis on the night of the recording session. ( Original cast member Robert Britton Lyons will return to the role of Carl Perkins later this spring. He is now appearing in the London production.)

Eric Schaeffer staged the musical based on the real-life 1956 recording that the foursome made at Sun Records' studio in Memphis. Million Dollar Quartet has a book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux; the latter conceived and originally directed the musical. Million Dollar Quartet opened April 11, 2010, at the Nederlander Theatre following an acclaimed Chicago run, where the musical continues to play the Apollo Theater.

The production also earned a Best Musical Tony nomination, as well as a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical.

"On Dec. 4, 1956," production notes state, "an auspicious twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley together. The place was Sun Records' storefront studio in Memphis. The man who made it happen was Sam Phillips, the 'Father of Rock 'n' Roll,' who discovered them all. The four legends-to-be united for the only time in their careers for an impromptu recording that has come to be known as one of the greatest rock jam sessions of all time. . . . Million Dollar Quartet captures the infectious spirit, freewheeling excitement and thrilling sounds of a singular moment when four of the music industry's most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, came together for one of the most memorable nights in music history."

The design team for Broadway includes Derek McLane (scenic design), Howell Binkley (lighting design), Jane Greenwood (costume design), Kai Harada (sound design) and Chuck Mead (musical arrangements and supervision).

For more information visit MillionDollarQuartetLive.

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