Pellissippi State: Tony Award-winning alumnus Levi Kreis stages one-night performance

Photo of man sitting on a stool looking forward and grabbing his right upper arm with his left hand.

Photo credit: Terri Johnson for Triple Fire Photography

Levi Kreis garnered a 2010 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, thanks to his electrifying performance as Jerry Lee Lewis in “Million Dollar Quartet” on Broadway. Now he has scheduled a one-night performance at Pellissippi State Community College.

The Saturday, March 30, event brings the Pellissippi State alumnus and Oliver Springs native to the stage for an evening of cabaret-style vocals and piano. This is Kreis’ only Tennessee appearance during his Flying Solo tour, which also includes dates in Chicago, New York City, Atlanta, Houston and Washington, D.C.

The Pellissippi State performance takes place in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at the Hardin Valley Campus. Ample free parking is available.

While a student at Pellissippi State, Kreis studied music. His debut album was released in 2005, and his songs have been featured on television shows such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “Sons of Anarchy,” and “The Apprentice.” He has appeared late night with Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman, as well as on “The View.”

Kreis sings and plays piano, but he is perhaps best known as a stage actor. He toured with the national production of “Rent,” then went on to originate the Jerry Lee Lewis role, for which he was recognized with the Tony Award.

“Million Dollar Quartet” is based on the legendary 1956 impromptu jam session of Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash that took place in Memphis at Sun Record Studios. The play dramatizes the historic event and larger-than-life personalities of the four recording stars.

In addition to the Tony, Kreis received significant praise for his work in the original production, including in a 2010 review by Charles Isherwood in The New York Times. Isherwood said of Kreis that “his thrashing keyboard style is an impressive approximation of Mr. Lewis’s febrile dexterity.” Kreis’ more recent solo show has been rated five-star by the Chicago Tribune.

For a performer who has gained international recognition, Kreis remains grounded in East Tennessee tradition. He refers to his music as “conscious pop,” explaining that it’s difficult to categorize his style as fitting into any existing box.

“I grew up in Oliver Springs hearing the same old hymns that Jerry Lee sang,” said Kreis. “I always wanted to be a gospel singer, but in a language where all faiths and all religions could come to the table and enjoy being encouraged.”

The Kreis performance is one component of Pellissippi State’s arts series, “The Arts at Pellissippi State.” The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

Kreis performs at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be ordered online at www.pstcc.edu/tickets. If tickets are still available on the 30th, they can be purchased one hour before performance time at the box office.

For additional information, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu/arts.

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Get to know Levi Kreis in the “Million Dollar Quartet” clip below:

“Million Dollar Quartet” performance on “The Late Show with David Letterman”:

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