There are not many people who dislike the music of Elvis Presley, but you’d be forgiven for assuming that This Is Elvis is just another jukebox musical. However it is clear from early on that this is an exceptional production.
The story starts in 1968 at Elvis’s come back TV show. After 10 years or more away from the stage, serving in the army and then pursuing a film career that is gradually fading, he is so nervous that he nearly doesn’t appear.
Well appear he does and it turns out to be a success all across the USA, catapulting him back into the public eye.
He is encouraged by the TV producer, Steve Pinder, to break away from Colonel Tom Parker’s grasp on his faltering film career and make a music comeback. He mulls it over and finally stands up to his manager and asks Parker to book him some gigs instead of film roles.
Parker books him an initial four week engagement at the new International Hotel in Las Vegas and the plot then moves to the famous strip where we witness a few touching exchanges between Elvis and his best friends and band members Charlie Hodge and Joe Esposito, who are trying to keep him in his marriage and also off the pills.
The first act ends with rehearsals for the show and half a dozen very well performed cover versions not normally associated with Elvis including Oh Happy Day and Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Act two is then a one hour Concert set in the International, with over twenty Elvis classics back to back. Hit after hit went by. When Burning Love started the audience were on their feet, with some dancing in the aisles. Suspicious Minds was another crowd favourite and the performance of American Trilogy was quite something. Then, to finish, Jailhouse Rock was perfect.
Steve Michaels as Elvis, wearing the famous leathers or high collar white jump suit, is quite brilliant. He not only looks and moves like the King but he very much sounds like him too.
Mark Pearce and Benjamin Stratton as Charlie and Joe respectively, offer touching performances in trying to keep Elvis on track, as well as playing their part in the very proficient nine piece band. The concert line up is completed with the accomplished three girl vocal group, Sweet Inspiration.
If you like Elvis you’ll love this. If you like good old Rock and Roll music you will love it too.
This Is Elvis plays the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday 31st March. To book tickets click here.