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Film with local ties readies for big screens nationwide (with video)

By Xavier Smith xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 3:04 PM

Lebanon’s “Elvis” Wade Cummins has performed for the majority of his life.

His parents were musically talented and played a variety of instruments.  He joined his first band at the age of 13 after performing for only four years. 

His show featured cover performances of many artists including Gene Pitney, Tom Jones, Buddy Holly and most popularly, Elvis.

Cummins said he was noted as being the first Elvis impersonator, and by the ’60s, his show focused completely on Elvis.

His latest venture, however, places his other talent, writing, in the forefront of his life.

Cummins wrote the story of “The Identical,” a film set to release in theatres across the country Sept. 5.

The film tells the story of twin brothers who are unknowingly separated at birth and the separate paths they take in life during the Great Depression.

One brother becomes a successful rock ‘n’ roll icon and the other struggles with balancing his musical passion while trying to please his father.

The film stars some Hollywood heavy-hitters.

Golden Globe nominated Ray Liotta, star of “GoodFellas” and “Field of Dreams,” teams up with fellow Golden Globe nominee Ashley Judd (“Heat,” “Double Jeopardy”) to star in the film. 

Primetime Emmy winners Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano also star in the film.

Newcomer Blake Rayne, also known as Ryan Polton, plays the separated twins in the film. Rayne, like Cummins, is a noted Elvis impersonator. He won an Elvis impersonator contest in 1998 after his mom dared him to enter.

He currently lives in Nashville and is an Indie recording artist.

Cummins, a devoted Christian, said the drive to write the story came from his faith.

“It was something I tossed over for a couple of months and then I prayed about it and then wrote the story over the course of a year.”

Cummins said he doesn’t want audience members to be confused about the amount of his life influenced the film.

“The film is not about me. The story is based in Lebanon and the main character is from Lebanon. There are some of my life in the film but it’s not a story of my life.”

The film won the 2014 Nashville Film Festival Audience Award. The award is given to the overall best pictured voted by the audience. “The Identical” beat out nearly 3,500 films for the award. Cummins said he loves the film.

“I did the same thing viewing the film as I did writing it,” he said. “I cried. I laughed. I applauded.”

Cummins said his personal life blends into the film because he understands not being accepted by mainstream audiences and businesses. 

“You could be as talented and sing as good as some mainstream artists but the business will still mistreat and ignore you. Almost making you a third class citizen.”

Cummins said the film draws a broad audience because it could touch so many people.

He said the film is for anyone who has been adopted, adopted a child, given up a child for adoption, ministers, preacher’s kids, aspiring musicians or fans of music.

It’s a faith-based film but anyone can enjoy it. 

Cummins said the story and film have launched him into a venture he never thought he would be in, but is excited about the future and has two more stories copyrighted and ready to go. He said he enjoys the feeling that comes with his success but can’t take all the credit.

“All glory to God. He gives me the talent and inspires me and I’m just a vessel of his work,” he said. “Naturally as a person, I’m really excited and happy as a person to see something go from a vision to total completion.”

The film has received great reviews by viewers on various websites and has drawn comparisons to Forrest Gump but one review stands out to Cummins.

“The woman said she had never cried so much and felt so good. That’s probably the best review I’ve gotten.”

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