The Broadway interpretation of this historic day definitely takes a few liberties, but those are done for maximum enjoyment — so that we can hear a few of the artists’ greatest hits and feel a little bit of the drama of Sun Studios in those days, with the owners simply trying to keep the lights on and the artists working. We caught up with Elvis, played by 20-year-old dead ringer (and lifelong fan) Cody Slaughter, ahead of this week’s performances. Tickets cost $25-$65 and are available for purchase at the Kauffman Center box office or online.
What is your first memory of Elvis?
My first memory of Elvis was the image of his face on a cassette tape. I put the cassette in and heard "Blue Suede Shoes." I think I was around 5 years old, but honestly, there's not a day in my life that I don't remember him.
In your opinion, why is Elvis so captivating to audiences even still?
Elvis was more than just a good voice and a dancer. He had an electricity about him that brought you in. He did gospel, rock and roll. He appealed to all audiences, no matter who they were. He started so much and opened the gates to rock and roll. He did things that hadn't been done before.
What's it like to portray Elvis in Million Dollar Quartet?
I think it's an honor for me to play the biggest icon in the world. It's pretty awesome. I think if anyone deserves to live on this long, it's Elvis.
What is the most challenging or interesting part of performing in MDQ?
Trying to bring the personal side of Elvis to the table and to keep it real and not fall into the idea of Elvis.
Favorite Elvis song you perform in MDQ?
My favorite Elvis song that I perform is "Hound Dog" because I can dance, but there's this coolness about "That's Alright, Mama."
How about favorite songs represented in MDQ?
I really like "Peace in the Valley" because it was done in the original session and it shows that these guys were rock-and-roll stars, but they could sit down and sing some gospel. It's really moving.
What is it like to represent the magical day in rock-and-roll history onstage?
Growing up, I really wanted to do something like this. I was really interested in Elvis. To be able to be in a show that represents four guys that changed the world with music is something I only could have dreamed of. I grew up listening to all of this music, and now I get to perform it. It's an honor. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. This is the best way I could have started out in theater.
What is the most interesting thing for audiences to know about MDQ?
Everyone in the show plays their instruments live, and we're all singing live. Nothing onstage is fake.
What is your favorite part of being in a Broadway musical?
Growing up, when I heard the word Broadway, there was an idea behind it. There are songs about Broadway, and now I'm here doing a show. I didn't know what my life would be like. People work their whole lives to be on Broadway, and I'm here and getting to travel around the world. It's a dream.
Why should people come see this show?
If you like music, even if you don't know anything about Johnny Cash or Carl Perkins, you'll walk out with a whole other idea about where we got our music today. It was these guys that took chances and went against the grain to get what we have today. Jump up, dance and have a good time! It's the closest you'll ever get to a rockabilly concert!