One day while working at Bull Moose music store in Lewiston in 2003, a co-worker told Scott Moreau that he needed to listen to a record by Johnny Cash.

A disinterested Moreau said, “I don’t really like country music.”

His co-worker put the record on the store’s music system, anyway.

That introduction changed Moreau’s life. He was instantly hooked.

Not only did he buy that record, Moreau bought all of Cash’s newer recordings, too. He then went back and bought his older records, along with any videos and books he could find on the artist.

“I just kind of got sucked in and never looked back,” Moreau said.

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That exposure to the the iconic artist in Bull Moose at the Lewiston Mall was the first step of a career path that has led Moreau to his current role of a lifetime — playing Johnny Cash in the first national tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Million Dollar Quartet.”

The musical makes a stop Saturday at Merrill Auditorium in Portland for two performances. The tour continues through late June, Moreau said.

“Million Dollar Quartet” features the story of a 1956 Memphis recording session at Sun Records that brought music legends Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Cash together for an all-star jam session. It would be the first and only time they would perform as a group.

Moreau has played Cash on stage for the past 18 months after serving as an understudy for the previous two years.

Born in Bath and raised in Litchfield, Moreau graduated from Winthrop High School and studied music theater at Illinois Wesleyan University. His love of theater came from attending musicals at the Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick with his family. He even acted on the Brunswick stage, appearing in the 1999 performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

While Moreau performed in various regional theaters and a couple of national tours, his enthusiasm for Johnny Cash continued to grow. He first played his songs for his own enjoyment, soon performing them at cabarets and open mics nights.

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“It’s the originality of his sound, especially when he was first starting out,” Moreau said. “He was creating a sound that, though it may have been simplistic, it was something no one had ever heard before.”

An early musical based on Cash’s life, “Ring of Fire,” opened and closed quickly on Broadway in 2006. When the theater he was working at in Pennsylvania received the rights to perform the play, the director didn’t have to look far to find his Johnny Cash.

Moreau had portrayed Cash on three occasions and had even once directed the play.

When “Million Dollar Quartet” opened on Broadway in 2010, Moreau eagerly followed its progress. The musical moved off Broadway a year later and toured the country. Moreau auditioned for the part and received five callbacks before being hired as an understudy for the Johnny Cash role.

After two years, the role he was born to play became his.

Moreau estimates he has played Cash on the national tour more than 350 times.

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With the tour winding down in June, Moreau is looking ahead to his next project. He has already recorded a Johnny Cash tribute album. Besides continuing to audition for roles on stage, he may seek out parts in television shows and films. Last year, he was cast in the final episode of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”

But Johnny Cash will never be far from his consciousness.

“Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, picking cotton, living in a rural place like Litchfield, I can certainly identify with that way of life,” Moreau said. “How far he came from the very beginning to what he became — this massive cultural and musical icon.

“He lived the archetypal American Dream — coming from nothing and having a dream of being on the radio — and stopping at nothing to make that happen. That is what I relate to.”

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