‘Big boots to fill’: Alberta performer plays Johnny Cash in new Calgary show

This week brings a big break for a young Alberta performer who’s pretty pumped about hitting the stage with his take on a music legend.

Devon Brayne is playing singer-songwriter Johnny Cash in the Theatre Calgary production of Million Dollar Quartet.

“Yeah, big boots to fill,” Brayne said. “Big boots for sure.”

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Cash is one of four all-star musicians portrayed in the production, which runs from April 26-May 22 in the Max Bell Theatre at Arts Commons in downtown Calgary.

Brayne’s castmate Michael Vanhevel plays Elvis Presley.

“It’s a fictionalized account of a real event that took place December 4, 1956,” Vanhevel said. “Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley had a jam session.”

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Many of the songs performed in Million Dollar Quartet is the music that Brayne said he grew up with.

“I was born and raised in Lethbridge and studied at the University of Lethbridge in the drama program,” Brayne said.

During his education, Brayne said he often travelled to Calgary to watch live theatre and added it’s quite a thrill to now be on the stage himself.

“It’s huge for me,” Brayne said. “All of my extended family is still down in Lethbridge, so they’ll be here on Saturday and cheer me on from afar.”

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Vanhevel said Brayne’s family members, and the rest of the audience, will find much to applaud when watching his performance.

“Oh, he’s fantastic — I’m just blown away,” Vanhevel said. “Everything that Devon’s doing is so beautiful, really capturing the spirit of Johnny Cash and doing honour to him as a person.”

Brayne said he’s excited to bring Cash, and his message to the stage.

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“Presenting this story, through the tumultuous times that the last two years have been — just be kind, be kind to one another,” Brayne said.

“John was always known to have this stoicism to him, kind of this dark force, but he was actually quite a gentle soul.”

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