Father and son Dan and Zach Lentino of Schaumburg will appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman” this week backing up different Elvis tribute artists on different nights.
Zach celebrates his 20th birthday Tuesday with his second of three nights on the show. His band, Lance Lipinsky & The Lovers, also includes drummer John Perrin of Elgin and is fronted by Lipinsky, who plays Jerry Lee Lewis in the Chicago production of “Million Dollar Quartet.”
All have been floored by the opportunity to reach a nationwide audience.
“It’s difficult to even think about,” said Zach, who plays bass for the band. “Letterman is a household name. It seems like such an unattainable thing and then we’re here!”
Only about a week and a half have gone by since Zach and his bandmates learned their Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday appearances were even a possibility.
His father, Dan, is the manager, director and a member of The Fabulous Ambassadors, the band backing up Thursday’s artist, Shawn Klush, during Letterman’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love with Elvis” week.
Zach said his father’s band — which also includes Mount Prospect native and 1971 Prospect High School graduate Jim Johnson — would probably have played the entire week if they hadn’t been performing in Chile during the first few days.
But “Late Show” musical director Paul Shaffer also wanted a younger band to play with the younger Elvis tribute artists earlier in the week, Zach’s mother, Jane Lentino-Seifritz said.
Though Dan mentioned his son’s band as a possibility, that made the selection of Lance Lipinsky & The Lovers far from a foregone conclusion, Zach said.
The group began rehearsing the selected songs every night and sending in videos before Shaffer gave them the green light.
“We were working around the clock on this!” Zach said.
So frenetic did the past week and a half become, that Zach didn’t even remember Tuesday was his birthday until he logged onto the Internet and saw the greetings from friends.
“It’s kind of a surreal experience,” he said.
Though frequently mentioned by guests of the Letterman show, Zach said one of the most surprising things is the cold temperature in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
The Hoffman Estates High School graduate is now a sophomore at Elmhurst College, where he must be Thursday night to play the lead in “I Love a Piano,” a play about Irving Berlin. He’s previously played Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” at the college. Most of his acting roles have also required him to sing.
During his years at Hoffman Estates High, Lentino performed with the jazz band, orchestra and choir. He also was an AP student, vice president of the Thespian Club, a Madrigal jester, and starred in plays and musicals.
“It’s a real treat for those of us who knew him when to see him continue to enjoy performing,” said Bob Erickson, music chairman at Hoffman Estates High School.
“If you saw him last night, you can see that he is very comfortable on the stage,” Erickson added, “and that his personality — which at the minimum is effervescent — melds perfectly with the performance stage.”
Zach said he loves to perform and doesn’t have a strong preference between acting or playing music as long as he gets to do one or both for a living.
Ÿ Daily Herald correspondent Eileen Daday contributed to this story.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.