Cortland Repertory Theatre Downtown Presents Jefferson McDonald's GREAT BALLS OF FIRE

He developed this new concert as a showcase for the hits of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Willie Nelson, Ray Price and other legends.

By: Jan. 29, 2024
Cortland Repertory Theatre Downtown Presents Jefferson McDonald's GREAT BALLS OF FIRE

Cortland Repertory Theatre Downtown, located at 24 Port Watson Street in Cortland, will present the Central New York debut of Jefferson McDonald's Great Balls of Fire, an exciting and electric tribute created and performed by a former CRT performing intern who has toured the world with this concert event. 

Dubbed “the Victor Borge of Rock and Roll” who was “born inside a piano,” McDonald, an award-winning actor and composer, has brought his passion for drama, comedy, and music to stages all over the United States and Canada.  He developed this new concert as a showcase for the hits of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Willie Nelson, Ray Price and other legends.

Born in Ithaca and raised in Romulus, NY, McDonald grew up on an organic poultry farm. He realized he had dexterous fingers “being the fastest chicken gutter in upstate New York”.  He soon realized his fingers could move just as fast playing Mozart, and at age eleven started pursuing music aggressively.  He attended Ithaca College, and included in his college years were two summers at Cortland Rep; in the 2007 production of Fiddler on the Roof and then as a 2008 CRT Performing Intern in The Best Little Whorehouse of Texas, A Few Good Men and the children's show Wiley and the Hairy Man. After graduating IC in 2009, he dropped his music studies for drama and studied in London and Moscow.  He then attended the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training where he was cast as Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which caused him to be featured - shirtless - in a New York Times article.

In subsequent years, McDonald received critical acclaim for playing Jerry Lee Lewis in thirteen productions of the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet beginning at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theater in Missouri. Other productions included those on the Norwegian Cruise Line, at Weston and Forestburgh Playhouses, Shadowland Stages and Mayfield Dinner Theater in Alberta, Canada. His interpretation has been described as “an unparalleled performance that defies description” (Broadwayworld) and “one of the most shockingly brilliant performances I've seen anywhere by anyone” (The Frenetic Peripatetic). He recently won Best Performer and Best Music Direction for a production of MDQ at Studio Tenn, in Franklin, TN. His performance was met with such acclaim at Playhouse Stage Company in Cohoes, NY, that he was commissioned to write a new musical, Jerry Lee Lewis VS Jerry Lee Lewis, with press declaring the inaugural production a “thrill” that “ends explosively” (Patrick White, Nippertown). An active playwright and composer, he released his first album, Memphis, in 2021 which can be heard on Spotify and all other platforms.  His follow up album, Man of the Road, is also available.

Having toured for the past year, Jefferson McDonald's Great Balls of Fire is one of the most successful and in-demand productions for Princess Cruise Lines. For the concert, McDonald is joined by longtime friend and collaborator Armando Gutierrez on the bass and vocals along with a band of stellar rock and roll artists. Currently residing in Los Angeles, McDonald is thrilled to bring this show back to his old stomping grounds of upstate New York and Cortland Rep.

Performances will be on April 20 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm at CRT Downtown. Tickets are $35.00 and are available by calling 800-427-6160, visiting 24-26 Port Watson Street, Cortland, or online at www.cortlandrep.org. CR Box Office hours are Mon-Fri, 9:00-4:00.




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