From the commonality of commuting in the hustle and bustle of a lively subway to commuting within the privacy of one’s own car, to having a year riddled with all four seasons compared to one that is predominantly reined by sun shine, the differences between living in New York City and Los Angeles are vast. Extending far beyond just lifestyle and weather though, the differences between the two coasts also include community– especially the acting community.
Choosing the right coast is a huge factor in an actor’s success and the kind of work they can expect to immerse themselves in– those whose hearts quicken to the rhythm of Broadway will feel at home in New York; while those who dream of a life on the silver screen will have a better chance of making their mark in Hollywood.
For actor Cory Dagg, leaving the glitz, glamour and sunshine of LA behind to relocate to NYC earlier this year wasn’t the easiest decision, but it was indeed necessary; and he doesn’t regret it one bit.
“The New York acting scene is busy, vibrant and fast paced, it is much more theatre based, that, and being closer to my creative team, is what brought me to New York City,” explains actor Cory Dagg, who is preparing to open his one-man show “I Walk a Lonely Street” later this year in The Big Apple.
“I embraced New York since the moment I arrived in January, which was still the dead of winter. I love the architecture, culture, music scene… And being in LA for so many years I really started to miss the seasons. This might sound strange but I really welcomed the cold weather and a proper winter when I arrived.”
Originally from Canada, Dagg’s film and television career first took off more than 30 years ago when he landed a critical role as three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp’s teacher on the original “21 Jump Street” TV series. With the co-star appearance helping to showcase his talent to the right people, Dagg’s career snowballed and he went on to land a long list of guest star and co-star roles, such as Gus Merino on the Primetime Emmy nominated series “The Commish” with Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”), Stan in the two-time Primetime Emmy nominated series “Millennium,”General Michaelson on the seven-time Primetime Emmy nominated mystery series “The Andromeda Strain,” Peters on “The Net,” and countless others.
Establishing a prominent position for himself in the entertainment industry, Dagg has spent his career acting alongside the world’s most celebrated stars, including Robert De Niro, Demi Moore, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta, Mickey Rooney and many more.
Even though New York had actually been his plan from the start, the natural progression of his career landed him in Los Angeles first. He recalls, “I had originally intended on moving straight to New York. Some opportunities and offers opened up so I thought okay I’ll go to LA first for a year or two and then to New York, but it was a very productive time so one or two years turned into 11 years.”
Landing roles in numerous films, such as “Unforgettable” starring award winning actor Ray Liotta and Oscar Award winner Neil Jordan’s “We’re No Angels,” Dagg achieved great success in LA. However, as he expanded his craft into theatre, with leading roles in productions such as Stephen King’s “Misery,” “The Laramie Project,” “The Sound of Music” and others, NYC made its way back on the radar. What really set him off on the journey to NYC though, was the one man play “I Walk a Lonely Street,” a show that he began crafting whilst living in LA in 2020.
Bringing to the stage the heart-wrenching story that led to the creation of the song “Heartbreak Hotel,” Elvis Presley’s first number #1 hit, “I Walk a Lonely Street” is the result of a promise that Dagg made over 30 years ago to the woman who co-wrote the song with Tommy Durden, Mae Boran Axton. While filming the movie “We’re No Angels” decades ago, Dagg found himself working alongside Mae’s son Hoyt Axton, who invited him over for dinner at Mae’s hotel. On that fateful night, Mae opened up to Dagg about the events that led to the making of the song, and he made her a promise to share the truth with audiences. "I Walk A Lonely Street" is a story based on true events, with Dagg also incorporating tales from his personal life. A remarkable and exciting solo performance of the story behind the song that changed the course of rock and roll history.
Dagg says, “I hope audiences will be entertained and moved- laugh, cry, cheer, sing along. I wish most of all that this hardworking and brave woman will be given the recognition she deserves for co-writing the song that helped launch Elvis’ career all those years ago.”
After having a successful three-week run of “I Walk a Lonely Street” at the Hudson Theatre in LA during the 11th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2021, where Dagg workshopped the play in front of a live audience, Dagg went back to the drawing board several times to perfect the show. With ceaseless dedication to making the best show possible, he even did some anonymous busking on the streets to test and see if certain songs would gather a crowd more than other songs. After years of hard work, the show is finally ready for audiences; and there’s no better place to debut than NYC.
“I felt it was crucial to be in NYC, to take my show down the home stretch leading to the opening in the busiest, most creative theatre and acting community in the country all within a few city blocks, I knew that’s where I had to be,” admits Dagg.
As excitement builds for the debut of Dagg’s show, in which he plays all of the characters, ranging from a teenage Elvis to a childhood version of himself, the actor has happily found his home in NYC.
“I’m living in Midtown Manhattan in an area called Hell’s Kitchen, many years ago it was known for its high crime rate, but now is a much more sought after neighborhood with it’s trendy restaurants and close proximity to Times Square, and, more importantly for me, the Broadway Theatre District almost at my doorstep,” says Dagg. “I am completely inspired by the creative acting community here, the energy here in the city is fantastic, stronger than any other city I’ve ever lived in.”
Regardless of where he hangs his hat, Dagg's career continues to thrive with exciting projects on the horizon. In addition to his new show "I Walk a Lonely Street" preparing for its premiere at Under St. Marks Theatre in NYC in August, and discussions for a US tour in the works, Dagg also recently played a key role in the upcoming horror film "The Queen Mary." Dagg's impressive repertoire of work in the industry also includes working as executive coordinator and associate producer for films such as the multiple Emmy-nominated “Lucy and Desi” directed by Amy Poehler, the multiple Emmy-nominated “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” Ron Howard’s critically-acclaimed “Pavarotti,” the Emmy-winning “The Apollo,” and Ron Howard’s Grammy and Critics’ Choice Award-winning “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years.” Clearly, Dagg's passion and talent for acting and producing are a testament to his successful and thriving career in the entertainment industry, something he will continue to do no matter where he is.