Levi Kreis won a Tony Award on Broadway for his role as the musical legend Jerry Lee Lewis, a piano keys slamming wild man.
An easy YouTube search turns up Kreis throwing down on the piano during an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. “Million Dollar Quartet,” with Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis, hit New York’s Great White Way in 2010 and knocked out the competition.
“Growing up in the church, you always sung with conviction,” Kreis told SFGN in a telephone interview last month. The Tennessee native, who now calls South Florida home, is the featured performer for Diversity Honors, May 13, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Billed as “the event of the year,” Diversity Honors, organizers say, brings together distinguished people who are transforming lives through living authentically and advancing inclusiveness. Kries has been “out” as a gay man for some time and lives happily in Miami Beach with this partner, but now says he feels almost like he’s “blending in” with society because of the advancements in LGBT rights.
As for playing for the second annual Diversity Honors, Kreis said, “it does my soul good to commune with my people.”
Proceeds from the event benefit the Harvey Milk Foundation and Pride Center at Equality Park. Honorees in 2016 are: Publishing magnate Peter Clark, Aventura Commissioner Enbar Cohen, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, Palm Beach physician Mark Denker, M.D., Circuit Judge David Young and Attorney Rae Franks. The seated dinner soiree is hosted by Omar Lewis, weekend anchor for WSVN.
Global human rights advocate Stuart Milk, nephew of iconic San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, is slated to make a special presentation. The 2016 Milk Foundation Milan Rosza Youth Award Honoree is going to Ryland Whittington, an eight-year-old transgender boy.
“The Harvey Milk Foundation and our global teams that work every day to advance human rights are proud to come together here in South Florida and host an event that honors individuals who, in their extraordinary lives, remind us all of the diversity of the human spirit and the potential that lives inside of all of us," said Milk, in a news release.
Kreis is not tipping his hand as to what type of performance event attendees can expect. He said he is currently working on his fifth album and talks fondly of his growing up in a Southern Baptist home with a story telling father in a small Appalachian town.
He came to terms with his sexuality years ago and acknowledges the support he has received. Answering a “cattle call” for the role of Roger in a west coast touring production of “Rent” catapulted Kreis into an award winning theatrical career.
“The LGBT community lifted me up,” Kreis said. “I found a home there and it’s at the core of what I do. We choose to be incredibly vulnerable when we come out.”
Tickets are $175 per person and available at www.diversityhonors.com Attire for the evening is black tie optional.