BWW Interviews: Martin Kaye's Transition From Being on the Road to Vegas in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

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Martin-Kayes-transition-from-being-on-the-road-to-Vegas-playing-Jerry-Lee-Lewis-in-MILLION-DOLLAR-QUARTET-20010101Martin Kaye has been performing since he could talk. He remembers spending time with his aunt and uncle at the theater and on the stage. His father taught him how to play the piano and his passion has always been music. Martin has been traveling all across the United States playing Jerry Lee Lewis in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET and recently moved to the Vegas production where he continues to play the role. He brings energy and enthusiasm to the role and he also brings his new bride with him as well. Martin shared his experiences of being on the road with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET and then his transition to the Vegas stage.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into singing.

I'm 28 years old and I have been singing since I could talk really. My grandma took me to a singing teacher when I was three years old and I mean I've always loved it. My family has always been musical and so I've just been surrounded by music my whole life. I started playing the piano. My dad is a piano player and so I was introduced to the piano that way. They got me some piano lessons when I was a kid and I started playing when I was 6-7 years old. And then I got involved in musicals when I was about 11 years old. My auntie and uncle worked for this, well not worked but it was like an extracurricular thing outside of school. My auntie directed and my uncle was the stage manager of a local theatre group. So I got involved in that and that's kinda when I realized I really wanted to be on stage my whole life. It wasn't that I wanted to focus so much on musicals; it was just that I wanted to be on stage. And I got involved in choir in school and all that kind of stuff. So that's kinda how it started.

And how did you end up in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET?

Well I was working on cruise ships. I was doing that for about four years and when I was on one of the ships, I met this guy who asked me if I had an agent or manager. He was a passenger on the ship. And he came up to me one day after one of my shows and asked me if I had an agent or a manager. And I was like "No, I don't." And he actually got me to finish on the ship. I was coming up on the end of my last contract on the ship and I wanted to get back on land and work on my career. And he said to me, "You should get in touch with an agent. I have an agent I can put you in touch with." And he put me in touch with this agent and two weeks after meeting the agent, she told me about this audition since she already knew it in New York (for MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET) so I got involved and went to the audition and did my thing and it just turned out for the best. It was my first professional audition, I had never done anything like this before and I really wasn't confidant about getting the part. I mean I was confidant in my ability to perform and do my thing but I didn't know if it was necessarily what they were looking for. I didn't have any experience in Broadway or anything like that so I didn't know if I was going to be picked. I obviously was, it was great and I'm really happy it turned out this way.

And how long were you touring with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET?

We have been doing it since September last year (2011). So we have been touring since then.

You play the role of Jerry Lee Lewis and it seems that that takes so much energy to keep up with every night. How to you prepare every day to play that role?

I mean the thing is obviously good amounts of sleep. I think generally, just naturally I'm an energetic person. When I'm on stage I just kinda get into this mode where I don't really think about anything. I don't really try to do anything I just do what I was born to do. So I think that natural energy kinda comes through the part that I'm doing. I mean obviously playing the piano is one of my big passions. So I think that just naturally gives me the energy. And also the audience, you know, every week we have a different audience, every night we have a different audience. That kinda stirs us on and kinda keeps us going. If the audience's energy is high, you know, it just stirs me even more and more.

So tell us more about your music and what is some of the music you do for yourself?

I wrote my first song when I was fifteen. It was for a Eurovision song contest/ competition that I had to write a song for. And we won the British heat and went over to Sweden to perform in the finals. We didn't win but it was my first experience writing a song and having some motivation for that. I continued writing and I've written my first album, which has been out for a few years. It is called "About You." I was selling it on the ship and it is still available and it is on iTunes. And I have actually nearly finished my second album which should hopefully be out in the next couple months. It has a lot of songs which I have written in the last few years which I have never got down on record. I finally got down on record which I am really happy about, songs that I love that I have never gotten a change to record. That's coming out soon it's called "Everything the Pen Wants to Say" and that is kinda where I want to focus my career, is on my songwriting and my performing of my songs. This Broadway thing that I am doing right now is huge exposure, huge experience for me and I am loving every second of it but I definitely want to focus, when I can, on my own stuff as well.

So tell me a little bit about your wife, I saw that you recently got married. How did you meet?

I was working on the ship. It was June 2009 and she was on holiday with her parents and the way she tells it, she heard this kinda music playing. I was not singing that night; I was just playing the piano. And she heard this music and she didn't know where it was coming from and she was searching around the ship to find it. She could hear it coming through the ship, She found it and she said to her parents that it was the most beautiful piano music she had ever heard. It was like my soul through my piano music was pouring out to hers and she found it and she found me. And she sat down in the bar and I noticed her and obviously I noticed her and I went over and introduced myself to her parents and to her and from the next day; 'cause I told her I was going to be in the bar every night; I'd be playing every night. And she came back. Actually I met her the next day again around the pool and from that moment we were inseparable and actually that night, the second night that we met I wrote on a napkin "I think you may be my future wife." And now here we are. I proposed to her, actually she's from New York so we had to make a long distance relationship work and we absolutely did. She came up to England and stay with me for a few weeks, or a week or so and then I'd go stay with her parents in New York for a while and she'd come on the ships with me and how ever we could be together we made it happen. She came on the road with me as much as she could. It's amazing. It is actually three and a half years we have been together and we have only spent about 7 weeks apart, so it's pretty amazing. I actually proposed to her on the ship that we met. We went back on that ship a couple years later and I proposed to her on that same ship.

That's great.

Yeah, it's pretty wonderful.

So she came on tour with you?

Ya. We actually drive instead of getting the bus or flying; we drive together. It is amazing we get to see this country. And really experience the country and be together. I don't know what I would do if she wasn't able to come with me. It's pretty amazing having her here.

What are some of the cities that you've gone to that you've really enjoyed while you were on tour?

That is a difficult question because they are all so different in their own way. Memphis is incredible for its magic and passion that you feel for the show. I mean the show was based in that city. To go to the homeland, to the motherland of this show was just so incredible. To walk down Beale Street, it's just really cool. Where else have we loved? Vegas was cool obviously. Portland was incredible, Portland and Seattle, the Northwest, they were amazing cities, the vibe there is cool. They are music cities as well, so that was cool. Like I said, the list goes on. We went to Grand Rapids in Michigan, a place I have never heard of, and when we went there, it was so cool. It's like a forgotten city. We are vegan as well and everywhere we go we try to find new vegan things and it's so cool. Portland is a great place for vegans. Grand Rapids was great for vegans too. It's really, really cool to get to experience different cities, different people, and different foods. It is so diverse everywhere you go. You can go north, east, south, west and they are so different. They are like different continents.

How do you feel about transitioning from being on the road to being in Vegas? Has the transition been difficult or easy?

It's been strange, because you settle in with a family, you get to know everyone, so when you leave, it's emotional and weird, but that's life. And what I've now gone on to do is wonderful. I've met a whole new bunch of awesome, crazy people, I've been able to set up home with my wife, and I'm going to be performing in Vegas!!! Change is good!

What are some of the differences between the Vegas cast and the touring cast?

Well, a lot of the touring cast were not in relationships, so it's a different mentality. Here, most of the cast are married or spoken for, so it changes the way they think about life. It's different...neither one is better than the other, just different.

What do you miss most about not being on the road anymore?

Well, I don't miss only having one room to live in all the time! I guess I miss the discovery of new cities and stuff, but this whole lifestyle change for me here has been a whole new discovery of life, and this time, I get a whole year to discover this city!

What do you look forward to the most now that you are Vegas?

Having all our friends from around the world come and visit us (although we know they're not really coming to visit US), and performing on the strip - just can't wait to be a part of a show that's right slap bang in the middle of the entertainment capital of the world!

What do you think your future in music is? What do you see happening in five years down the road?

Again a difficult question, but I mean what I would like to happen is for me to be selling out big stadiums, singing my own music. Realistically whether that's going to happen in five years I don't know, but that is my big dream, you know. Keep working on my own music, keep gigging with my own music and just really try to make that happen. But whether I'll be there in five years or ten years, whatever happens, I've gotta stay focused on that. That's my job.

So if you had not become a singer, what would you have done?

Probably I would have gone into graphic design. I love graphic design. I also love creating DVD's, like I used to, I still do creating DVD's and DVD editing and stuff like that. So if the music thing didn't work out, I'd probably go into that. I'm not goo- I mean, I'm okay, but I'm not anywhere near professional quality. I would learn it but things like Bar Mitzvahs or wedding videos.

Do you have any advice for anyone who is trying to get into show business?

Always own what you do, like on stage when you sing a line or you sing a song, completely own it. Just go into it with complete confidence, be confident in your own ability. Don't let anyone bring you down. I think there are people in this business, in this world, that try to bring you down, whether they do it on purpose or not. Always be aware. I think being self-aware is a huge thing. Just love it. Just keep loving it. If you don't love it then don't do it.

Harrah's Las Vegas will come alive with the untold story of four rock n' roll pioneers and how they came together for one magical night, as the smash hit musical MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET moves into the Harrah's Showroom February 4.

Inspired by the electrifying true story, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET begins performances on February 4, 2013. Tickets are on-sale now. Ticket prices range from $69 to $94 and are available at the Harrah's Showroom box office, by visiting Ticketmaster.com or by calling (702) 369-5111. For groups of 10 or more, please call (866) 633-0195 or (702) 853-5950.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy Daniel

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Kathy Strain Kathy Strain spent most of her life outside of Philadelphia and has enjoyed Broadway shows for most of her life. Kathy moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2001 with her husband Ken and 3 children. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at San Antonio and runs her own Public Relations company. She loves to contribute pieces on the arts to several outlets and enjoys writing about talent and sharing it with the world.


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