The King, The Killer & Cash may look like the long-running “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Apollo Theater in Chicago, but it is definitely a different show. For one thing, there is no Carl Perkins.
“It’s a name value thing,” said Michael Goodman, who portrays Johnny Cash in The King, The Killer & Cash. “Million Dollar Quartet focuses on how Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins performed together. Perkins is relatively unknown compared to the other three. Most people don’t know who he is. The other three are all iconic and high-energy performers.”
The King, The Killer & Cash, starring Goodman as Johnny Cash, Lance Lipinsky as Jerry Lee Lewis (known as The Killer) and Vic Trevino Jr. as Elvis Presley, will be performed at two shows on May 17 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
Where “Million Dollar Quartet” is a musical about the day the four legendary musicians crossed paths at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn., The King, The Killer & Cash is just about the music.
“Million Dollar Quartet has more narrative and is more about history,” Goodman said. “It is more geared towards a story and the actors’ portrayals. Our show is 100-percent concert.”
But Goodman does have a connection to the “Million Dollar Quartet” show.
“In 2012 and 2013 I did ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ for two years at the Apollo Theatre,” said Goodman, who considers himself more of an impressionist than a tribute artist. “I was the full-time understudy, so I went on as Cash, Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. I filled in when they needed me. I left ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ this last winter.”
Goodman has been portraying Johnny Cash for about 10 years, and steps into the portrayal when he steps into his shoes.
“As soon as I dress like him, I look in the mirror and I see Johnny Cash,” Goodman said. “Also, before a show, I usually watch some videos of him. That puts me in the right frame of mind.”
Some aspects of the portrayal are more difficult than others.
“Many people can sing like him,” Goodman said. “As for his actions, he’s not someone who dances, like Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis. He has a stature. Cash could just stand there and take command of the audience.
“I just carry myself on stage and just have confidence in myself like he had in himself,” said Goodman about facing the challenge. “I have that ability to stand there and the confidence to command authority from the audience.”
And as Goodman is true to his portrayal, he believes Cash’s appeal is that he was true to himself.
“There is nothing fake about him and his music,” Goodman said. “In some instances his songs are dark and sad. That takes a true artist who is not afraid to convey emotion to do that. Some performers can hide behind a peppy or cheesy song. But to be a musical poet — that takes guts to sing a song that has a story. He had the guts to see the true spectrum of our world through music.”