Rick Dunham, proudly 1/4th Lithuanian on his mother’s side, is a long-time Lithuanian-American Club member who has entertained at Club functions and professional gigs like the Illinois State Fair for 28 years as his singing alter-ego, “Elvis Himselvis.” He has also competed in many professional Elvis tributes, like the annual Midwest Tribute to the King in Springfield.
In fact, Rick has performed professionally as Elvis in 33 states, Canada and Europe (including on Lithuanian television).
He has also acted in 77 productions over the past 33 years, locally at the Springfield Muni Opera, Springfield Theatre Center, and Theatre in the Park. For the past eight years, he has worked a job he loves as one of the cast of professional actors at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. His most recent role at the Museum was as Stephen Douglas in “The Heavens are Hung in Black.”
Rick is the great-grandson of Michael and Margaret (Liutkus) Banzin, who came to the U.S. in 1902 and 1907, respectively, and were married in Riverton, IL. He probably holds our local American-born record for lifetime visits back to Lithuania at eight trips, so far. And, he hopes that he and Lithuania have not seen the last of each other.
Rick grew up in rural Dawson, spending a lot of time with his Grandma Helen (Banzin) Gestautas, who spoke Lithuanian. Helen’s second husband, Lithuanian World War II DP (displaced person) Paul Gestautas, Rick’s step-grandfather, also was a major childhood influence who told countless stories of Lithuania and took Rick on his first trip there in 1978.
Rick’s mother, Mary Ann (Dodd) Dunham (now Homer), of Dawson, also is a long-time Club member. Since Rick says his father Donald Dunham of Buffalo “was singing before I was born,” it’s no surprise that Rick began singing at age 7, and his dad was his first accompanist. Brother Randy Dunham is also a musical theatre actor. Other siblings include: brother Rodney Dunham, half-brother Andrew Dunham and step-sister Shauna (Bryant) Moore. (Nieces Chloe and Darby will also be remembered by long-time Club members.)
After graduating from Tri-City High School, Rick attended Lincoln Land Community College and Millikin University in Decatur, where he earned a BFA Music-Theatre.
The following have been his favorite acting roles over the years (he likes comedy and musical comedy the best): Psedolus in “A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Nicely-nicely in “Guys & Dolls,” Charlie Baker in “The Foreigner,” Sam Byck in “Assassins,” Adam in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” and when he was younger, Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” W.A. Mozart in ‘Amadeus,” The Baker in “Into the Woods,” and Anthony in “Sweeney Todd.”
“I have always been a huge Stephen Sondheim fan,” Rick says.