Behind The Song: Cory Dagg’s “I Walk A Lonely Street” Is an Intimate and Compelling One-Man Show About the Song that Changed Rock & Roll 

Actor & Show Creator Cory Dagg – Photography by Vanie Poyey

Making the powerhouse decision to create an entire solo show from concept to curtain-down can be the pinnacle of any actor’s career, one that grants them unfettered artistic control over their own craft. 

The fusion of a beautifully scripted storyline with an outstanding on-stage presence is the essence behind a truly successful solo show, which is exactly what industry veteran Cory Dagg delivered throughout his commanding debut performance in “I Walk A Lonely Street” in Los Angeles this past August.

An intimate and compelling story behind the song that changed the course of rock and roll history, “I Walk A Lonely Street” is an emotional rollercoaster full of excitement and tragedy. Throughout the show, Dagg invites the audience on a touching and personal journey of how iconic songs and childhood idols shaped the brilliant artist that he is known as today. 

“A good solo show is told from the point of view of the actor performing the show,” explains Dagg. “To weave myself into the story that I wanted to tell in a truthful and hopefully meaningful way was not an easy task.”

A man of extraordinary talent, Dagg also worked behind the scenes as the show’s producer, which he workshopped over three weeks at the famous Hudson Theatre in LA, during the 11th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival in August 2021.  

“Producing involves a lot of work, you have to see the big picture as well as the small details,” he says. “Ultimately you are responsible for the entire show.”

Hollywood Fringe Festival official poster

In the dramaturgy phase of shaping his script, Dagg brought relevance to the team behind the unfolding of Elvis Presley’s iconic 1956 single “Heartbreak Hotel,” which deservingly went on to leave a monumental impact on the music we know today. Not only was the song the breakthrough to superstardom for Elvis Presley, but its impact on the next generation of musicians was mind-blowing. 

Beatles legend John Lennon once said, “When I first heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ my whole life changed from then on. I was just completely shaken by it.” Fellow Beatlemania superstar Paul McCartney also declared the song “nothing less than the most important artistic creation of the modern era.”

The show’s storyline focuses on a selection of influential characters, including a 19-year-old Elvis and “Heartbreak Hotel” co-writer Mae Boren Axton who, under a starry midnight sky, made a promise to the king of rock and roll to compose his first ever nationwide number 1 hit. 

The inspiration for “I Walk A Lonely Street” was born after Dagg’s coincidental onset interaction with Boren Axton’s son, as well as fellow actor Hoyt Axton (“Gremlins”) whom they worked together on the 1989 crime comedy “We’re No Angels,” starring two-time Oscar winners Robert De Niro (“Joker,” “Raging Bull”) and Sean Penn (“I Am Sam,” “21 Grams”). 

Throughout his captivating performance in “I Walk A Lonely Street,” Dagg breathed life into a wonderful and varied cast of characters who shaped the unfolding of the most pivotal rock song of all time. His effective portrayal of a young Elvis Presly, Hoyt and Mae Boren Axton, his present self and as a 7-year-old paperboy, among numerous other characters, left the mesmerized audience with an overwhelming sense of emotion. 

“It’s a big undertaking and you hope that people will say that those characters come naturally to you,” Dagg shares. “But the truth is it takes endless hours of rehearsal to get them right and to quickly transition from one character to another.”

Although the Hollywood Fringe Festival was essentially a workshop performance, this didn’t stop the devoted audience from feeling an overwhelming sense of attachment to Dagg’s stunning on-stage presence. 

One crowd member quoted, “He [Dagg] tells the story with such tremendous insight and humor, that by the end of the piece, the audience, young and old, reward him with genuine applause and occasional tears.” While another claimed, “The show was fabulous! It was funny in parts, tragic and I can’t believe one person could take you through time and space seamlessly playing many compelling characters.”

Cory Dagg in his solo show “I Walk A Lonely Street”
Image by Richard Clark & Projection Design by Jeffrey Elias Teeter

Following on from the tremendous success of the workshop in L.A, Dagg has also secured international exposure for the world premiere of “I Walk A Lonely Street,” which is set to take place at the distinguished 75th Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in 2022. 

“Seeing the characters and story come alive on stage has been a magical experience,” Dagg shares. “Especially after so many years of development, research and writing.”

Staying true to the iconic storyline and boldly moving forward with full freedom, action has once again landed Dagg at the heart of Hollywood greatness. Over the course of 30 years, he has flawlessly portrayed every character under the sun across film, television and theatre, often sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in the game. 

Hollywood royalty Robert De Niro (“The Irishman”) once threw his arm around Dagg on set while commending his phenomenal work as an actor, while two-time Oscar nominated director Mikael Salomon (“Band of Brothers”) offered Dagg a featured series role as General Michaelson in the seven-time Emmy Award nominated miniseries “The Andromeda Strain,” which was executive produced by Golden Globe winner and four-time Oscar nominated filmmaker Ridley Scott (“Blade Runner,” “The Martian”). 

With a long list of illustrious film and television credits to his name, and an upcoming world premiere of his already successful one-man show “I Walk A Lonely Street,” it’s fair to say that Cory Dagg is among the select few in the competitive industry who can truly master it all, and no doubt will continue to deliver timeless performances for years on end.

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