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One-man tribute show is three-for-all

Laurel Leader
Award-winning tribute artist plays Laurel Mill Playhouse fundraiser this weekend

A trio of rock and roll legends will transform the Laurel Mill Playhouse into a music hot spot this weekend with the return of award-winning tribute artist Jed Duvall.

Duvall's "Elvis" is no stranger to Main Street; he's performed solo at the Playhouse a half dozen times since his Playhouse debut in 2007, when Duvall played a policeman in "Arsenic and Old Lace."

Last year, Duvall joined the cast of "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" as a "visitor" wearing blue suede shoes, a role that landed the entertainer a nomination for the 2015 Washington Area Theatre Community Honors award for Outstanding Cameo In A Play.

This spring, Duvall has even more showmanship tucked under his Elvis belt; he will also bring Johnny Cash and Paul McCartney to the celebration.

"It's the first time I've ever heard of anyone doing [all three celebrities] " Duvall said.

Playhouse Artistic Director Maureen Rogers, of Laurel, said she is "thrilled to have Jed back at the Playhouse and excited to offer audiences the chance to celebrate three awesome artists in a single evening."

Rogers said she learned that Duvall performed tribute art by reading his bio in "Arsenic's" playbill. Intrigued, she and Playhouse vice president Larry Simmons invited him to solo in a fundraiser.

Duvall has returned to perform as Elvis every year the Playhouse stage has been open on a compatible weekend.

Without the authentic hair, makeup and costumes he wears in character, Duvall said he's been told many times that he looks most like Paul McCartney.

After studying the musicians' music, histories and personae (he said even their hairstyles can be unique to particular songs),Duvall finds it more challenging to impersonate the easygoing McCartney than Elvis or Cash.

Since Sir Paul is alive and still rocking, Duvall said he is continually adapting to whatever music McCartney is doing.

Costuming Elvis, he said, takes some cash outlay; period jumpsuits and custom-made belts are expensive. And although he can easily outfit Johnny Cash at any thrift store, Duvall said embracing the Man in Black'sself-destructive personality poses a different challenge.

Duvall first saw an Elvis impersonator perform at his high school in Croom. He said he can't remember the songs, but will never forget how every girl in that audience swooned.

He entered a school talent show the following year as "Elvin Preston," not because he related to the music, he said, but because he hoped to"get girls." After coming in close to last for performing Elvis's "Love Me," Duvall kept on impersonating the King even after enlisting in the Army after graduation.

His first contest win was on an Army post in 1981.

In 1983, Duvall studied movement/dance, vocal production, acting and makeup at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, where he performed "Elvis: An American Trilogy" and sang with bands during the mid-1980s.

He's appeared at a variety of venues since, traveling the country and winning numerous awards.

Some of his wins include: Best all-around performance at the Doo Wop Club, New York City (1986); first place at Rosecroft Raceway, Temple Hills (1994); third place in the non-professional division at Lake George Elvis Festival, Lake George, N.Y. (2007); People's Choice Award in the Images of the King Contest regional competition, Fredericksburg, Va. (2007);and third runner-up in the professional division at Elvistival, Dewey Beach, Del. (2008).

Duvall said he added Johnny Cash to his repertoire when Burleigh Kay from the Children's Miracle Network — who'd heard Duvall sing aCash song backstage at a prior fundraiser in Fredericksburg, Va. — asked him to impersonate Cash in 2007.

Paul McCartney, who Duvall said he is performing more and more frequently, came along in 2009.

After finishing a degree in digital and imaging arts from the University of Maryland in 1996, Duvall married and settled down with his wife, Kim, outside Baltimore. Ten years later, his creative spirit led Duvall, who performs as an independent contractor, to audition for the role in "Arsenic" at the Playhouse.

A man of faith, Duvall said he'd like his tombstone to read,"Return to sender."

"Tribute to Elvis, Johnny Cash and Paul McCartney" at Laurel Mill Playhouse runs March 20 and 21, Friday and Saturday,at 8 p.m. All tickets are $20 and can be purchased at laurelmillplayhouse.org. Audience members are invited to socialize after the performances at Oliver's (Friday) and Olive on Main (Saturday). For more information, call Maureen Rogers at 301-452-2557.

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