Sonny G. returns to Salida as Elvis, James Brown and other stars

Sonny Gonzalez grew up playing sports; he’d never even considered acting as a career. Now at age 30, Gonzalez is onstage full time, playing shows in Las Vegas and across the American West and performing revues of well-known music icons, including Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Elvis Presley and James Brown.

As Gonzalez, known on stage as Sonny G., chronicled it, he “fell into acting.” His uncle is an off-Broadway veteran and was an actor for a number of years. Not long after Gonzalez graduated high school in 2006, his uncle arranged for him to be invited to an audition for a national commercial for the Ford Expedition. Gonzalez ended up booking the commercial and “caught the acting bug.”

“I was lucky and I’m thankful; I got blessed as well. After that commercial, I was seen by a lot of people. I’d had a really positive first experience, so I thought ‘I want to do this. Maybe I can. ’”

The rest, as they say, is history. Gonzalez became a member of the Screen Actors Guild in 2009. “There are only 100,000 or so members. You kind of climb up the ladder; it’s kind of like a lawyer passing the bar.”

These days he lives in Denver full time when he’s not touring. Gonzalez has acted in commercials, television and film, mostly in supporting roles with rarely more than five to 10 lines. Notable appearances include Breaking Bad, Crash and Night Shift. But the last couple of years his acting has taken a back seat to rolling out his two tribute shows.

American Music Icons evolved from his early acting career. “I developed an Elvis Presley for an audition. I’d done Michael Jackson at my cousin’s wedding, so I thought maybe I could do it. I high-rolled my pants and wore loafers and an Elvis jacket I’d picked up at the ARC Thrift Store. I showed up a little late; the producers were waiting to see me because they’d seen my Michael Jackson on YouTube. Some of the other actors auditioning were totally Elvised out, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get it.”

But he did. After that nationwide casting audition in Colorado in 2013, Gonzalez was cast to play a role on Starz and Encore cable television. A year later he had the first ever sellout show at Pueblo’s Sangre De Cristo Arts Center, where he met Chris Fisher, who would later become his partner in the business.

Since then, Gonzalez has added Little Richard, Bruno Mars, James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Cab Calloway to the revue and, with Fisher, has developed another show, “Forever Dangerous,” in which he pays homage to the legacy of Michael Jackson.

His favorite performance thus far was at Napa Valley’s Lincoln Theater, where he opened for comedian Dana Carvey. “The audience loved the show, and it was great to meet Dana. His impressions are insane, and he had cool stories about meeting Michael Jackson.”

Gonzalez’ biggest crowd to date was at the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory parade in 2016. He opened for Big Head Todd and the Monsters at Civic Center Park in Denver to a crowd of 1 million people.

Audience members at the Salida SteamPlant American Music Icons revue July 28 can expect a theater-style show, Gonzalez said. “But it’s hard not to dance once you see the songs performed; there are 25 songs total. It’ll be famous rock and roll songs that everyone loves.”

There also will be a little bit of history mixed into the evening. “There are some emotional parts in the show. When I was researching, I noticed a ton of threads indicating that nearly all of them had met each other at one time or another.  There is a whole story interwoven between them.”

For more information about Sonny G., visit SonnyG.org or look for videos of his performances on YouTube. The Salida show will begin at 7 p.m. July 28. To purchase tickets, visit SalidaSteamPlant.com. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.