Million Dollar Quartet: Profiling Martin Kaye
By Dana Casadei
One fateful December day four rock and roll pioneers, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley met up at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee for a session that would go on to be known as the Million Dollar Quartet. That historic meeting has now become a Tony-award winning musical and will soon be coming to the Wharton stage.
“My agent got me the audition and I was like ‘Hell yeah I’m going to audition for Jerry Lee Lewis. That would be absolutely awesome,’” said Martin Kaye, who as guessed is playing Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical.
Kaye was raring to go at the thought of playing the rock legend, even though there is one very big difference between the two men. While Lewis is a man with a Southern drawl, Kaye has a very different accent, being born and raised in Manchester, England.
“That was really interesting,” said Kaye. “There were certain things that I had to learn that I didn’t know about being from the South, certain twangs here or there that I didn’t know about,” said Kaye.
Luckily for Kaye one of the writers’ wives was from Tennessee and more than willing to help him with a few day sessions. Add a dialect coach and a good ear for accents and you have the beginning of the process of becoming Jerry Lee Lewis.
“I would look in the mirror in my dressing room and I would just say ‘Ok, you’re Jerry Lee Lewis.’” And with that the Southern twang was brought out, showing Kaye’s ability to bring out the Southern charm at the drop of a hat.
Along with getting the accent down Kaye had to master some piano styles that he hadn’t known before, therefore improving his own piano techniques, a skill that he’s been working on since childhood.
With piano lessons starting at six, and voice lessons at three, Kaye knew at a young age that music was going to be playing a large part in his life, whether he wanted it to or not.
“It’s been something that I’ve always done, something that’s always been inside of me and no matter how hard I try I will always come back to music,” said Kaye.