Tony Award-winner Levi Kreis will perform a benefit concert for ArtsUnited at the Sunshine Cathedral on Saturday. Credit: Courtesy of Levi Kreis.

Tony Award-winner Stays Close to His Southern Roots

Multitalented singer and actor Levi Kreis may have gotten his big break when one of his songs was featured on “The Apprentice” more than a decade ago, but in the era of President Donald Trump, the Tennessee native eschews politics.

“My friends laugh at me because I’m so much like Dolly Parton. My job is to be a spiritual being who is empathetic to all, instead of choosing a team in the world. Compassion and unity are the things we need the most,” he explained.

He was also notable as one of the few openly LGBT artists recording and touring the country in the early 2000s.

“It was a big deal for an out artist to break on that show. I never met Donald Trump, never had any interaction with him. I thought it was interesting that NBC would take an out gay artist and give him the platform. It just wasn’t common in 2004.”

Kreis’s music has since become a staple on television since that reality TV debut, providing soundtracks for “The Vampire Diaries,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Sons of Anarchy.”

Just a few years later, Kreis would land a role on Broadway that cemented his place in showbiz, Jerry Lee Lewis in the hit musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” and earn him a Tony Award for best featured actor. He’s juggled an increasingly busy acting schedule ever since.

He completed two feature films this year, including “The Divide,” which will premiere in Los Angeles on Nov. 5.

“I’ve been cast as the villain lately,” he said. “In this film, I play a bigoted pastor…I’ve been going to the screening, getting to know the people, especially younger [LGBT] people who have dealt with the situation in their own towns, being accepted as who they are.”

Kreis will be returning to South Florida on Saturday, Oct. 27 to present a benefit concert for ArtsUnited, the local LGBT nonprofit artists’ collective. He plans to reprise many of the biggest hits from his 2017 album, “Broadway on the Keys,” a collection of standards reinterpreted as “vulnerable, heartfelt piano ballads, composed with that singer-songwriter approach.”

“We’re so used to hearing Broadway in a polished, glitzy, glamorous sort of way. In these [arrangements], we reexperience them and appreciate the lyrical content, inspiring content. They’ve been around for so many years and it can be hard to strip away the familiarity, what we know about them and listen with new ears,” Kreis said of the album.

What’s ahead for the handsome performer?

“I feel like I haven’t even hit my stride yet. When I look at what I’ve done, I think I can always do better. I have a tendency to never stop thinking five years forward, even though I sometimes have to remind myself to stop and enjoy where I’m at,” he said. “I’ve been disciplined and I’ll always have my music. I’ve been on the road since I was 12 years old and, ultimately, I’m living the life I want to live.”

Tickets for “An Intimate Evening with Levi Kreis” on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. at Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 S.W. 9th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, start at $35 at