Indy actor, ATI co-founder to reprise roles in ‘Million Dollar Quartet’


Brandon Alstott is ready to walk the line again.

The Indianapolis resident will perform as Johnny Cash for the third time in Actors Theatre of Indiana’s “Million Dollar Quartet.” The performances will be at 7:30 p.m. June 16-17 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts.

“I’m happy to be back in the saddle again,” Alstott said. “It’s a really fun role to play. I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan. I’ve read multiple books and I play his music all the time, so to portray him on stage is just such a thrill.”

Alstott previously performed as Cash in ATI’s 2016 and 2018 productions in the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts. “Million Dollar Quartet” is based on a true story of Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins jamming together one December night in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis.

Alstott said he is eager to perform on the Palladium stage.

“So many legends have performed on that stage and it’s such a beautiful venue,” Alstott said. “The acoustics are perfect. It will be a different setup and not as intimate as the smaller stage. The audience isn’t as close, so I might be a little bigger in my performance and a little more demonstrative. I might be a little more animated.”

ATI co-founder Don Farrell said Alstott does a great job as Cash.

“He’s an amazing actor and musician,” Farrell said.

Farrell will play Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, for the third time. 

“When I started delving into him and watching different interviews with him, he’s a very interesting person,” Farrell said. “There’s a fatherly quality about him. He found all these people before they became icons, like Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Howlin’ Wolf. He helped make them who they were, and he had an ear, kind of like Clive Davis. Sam Phillips nurtured these young voices into these icons. For me, ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ is really about Sam Phillips and Sun Records.”

Farrell said he had no idea how integral Phillips was to music until he did more research.

“I knew he was big, but I didn’t realize how big he was in shaping the music that we listen to today,” Farrell said.

DJ Salisbury, who is based in Orlando, returns as the director for the third time. He also has directed the show for The Appalachian Center for the Arts in Pikesville, Ky.

“It’s a nice little slice of Americana,” Salisbury said. “There’s not any huge drama. It’s really all about the personalities and the music. Besides Brandon and Don, I’ve not worked with the other performers before, but they all know the show and have done it before.”

Jefferson McDonald is the music director and plays Jerry Lee Lewis.

Nathan Shew returns in the role of Fluke.

Indianapolis resident Amanda McCarthy said she is excited for her ATI debut, playing Elvis’ girlfriend.

“I have seen ‘MDQ’ performed a few times,” she said. “I love the live music, and playing Dyanne puts me right in the middle of all the action.”

McCarthy has performed locally, including at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre and with the Indianapolis the Symphony Orchestra.

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