Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Showtime

Over the past few months, we did some road tripping for a few shows.  I was determined if winter was going to poo poo on my hopes for snow that we weren't going to at least be shut in for months.  I am a big Elvis fan.  One of my favorite trips was going to Memphis Tennessee to see Graceland, not once but twice.  The Mr who was a casual fan of his music came out a bigger fan afterward.  One thing about Elvis fandom I'm not a big fan of are Elvis impersonators.  I know they say imitation is the highest form of flattery but I've never felt that way about that type of entertainment.  I know I can be in the minority on that one and that's fine, it's just never been my cup of tea.  Some friends of ours are Elvis fans and they go see this one impersonator that is supposedly quite good but I've just never wanted to go.

Well, I saw that this show called Elvis Lives was touring and it said that along with 3 performers who captured different aspects of his career there was also a multimedia presentation featuring Elvis in press conferences and pictures.  I thought if I was ever going to see that kind of show that I should see one that is signed off on by Elvis Presley Enterprises.  So I booked us some box seats and off we went.

The first performer, and our favorite, was Dean Z.  After seeing the documentary "This is Elvis" when he was a kid, he began imitating Elvis' moves.  At 17, he left for Vegas and found success for 12 years all over the world paying homage to The King.  In 2007, he began doing Legends in Concert and was headlining in Branson, Missouri.  In 2013, he went for the title of Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist which is sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises and won!


The second performer was Jay Dupuis from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He began performing as Elvis at age 3 for his family and friends.  He also won Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist in 2014.  He does some of the gospel parts as well as a number or two from the 68 Comeback Special.

The third performer is Billy Cherry and what most would refer to as "jumpsuit Elvis."  In 2008, he was laid off from his job at 42 years old.  He decided to reinvent himself as an Elvis Tribute Artist and won the title in 2009.  What a story!



So what did we think of the performance?

I'll say, going into it, I prayed it wasn't going to be cheesy.  Dean Z has a talent that is undeniable.  He not only has down Elvis' moves, mannerisms and voice but also plays guitar so you really feel that something special from him.  He was charming and funny and even did some audience requests.  He appeared in two parts of the show and he was definitely a favorite for the Mr and I.

Jay came in for the gospel part and I think another song or two from the 50's and then a few numbers from the 68 Comeback Special.  He was good and looked a lot like the other guy so it felt consistent.  I don't believe he played guitar and his performances were slightly stiffer but it could've been because Elvis' career was being polished a bit by a certain "Colonel" so I think he captured that change in Elvis' public persona well.

I've never been a fan of jumpsuit Elvis where impersonators are concerned because it's easily the most parodied and usually the most disrespectful  The first three numbers were very stiff and Bill really seemed to need to relax into the performance.  Then just when he almost had me convinced that maybe the jumpsuit era could be properly represented, he put on a pair of those famous gold TCB sunglasses from the 70's but they were like those big sunglasses you get at the carnival that are like 10x bigger.  That took me totally out of it and honestly, I kind of wanted to leave but I assumed they would have all three onstage for a finale so I stayed.

Thankfully the clips and such of Elvis on the big screen on stage helped lend to the authenticity of it all.  I think it was a little too authentic to some because as all of the Elvi were serenading women in the crowd during their respective performances, you could see them losing themselves in the moment and totally swooning.  For many of them, I think it was remembering times they saw Elvis in concert or on TV and it brought back great memories for them.  That was a sweet thing to see.  But then there were others...all lining up to kiss the faux Elvi.  Drunk women, little girls, clingy desperate women who wouldn't let go and I looked at the Mr wide eyed and we leaned in and both said "they do know he's not really Elvis, right?"


Look, I'm not against getting in on the fun at a show and playing along and stuff but this was just uncomfortable and some women even came up after the fact and interrupted performances.  It was just weird and looked desperate.  We found out the Mr's supervisor went to that production before and he mentioned the women and she was like "what was UP with that!?!  It's SO weird!"  So I'm glad we're not the only ones who thought that was kind of strange.  I mean I'm a huge 50's Elvis fan but I'm still not going to go up to some plastic looking dude and drool on him.  (They have to seriously slather these guys with a ton of makeup that was obvious even from the box seats.  I kept referring to them as Santa Clause 2 toys.)

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The background singers were decent but one of the girls was not putting forth the effort and the Mr and I commented on it several times.  She would lollygag to her spot, have to be reminded to hit her mark and sometimes she barely opened her mouth to sing.  (Think not knowing the words to the Star Spangled Banner at a baseball game when you know the camera is on you.)  They had them out to dance as well and I don't know that was necessary since the moves were a little underwhelming.  It would've been fine if they stayed behind the mic the whole time.

There was a woman who was playing the role of Ann Margret and honestly, if you're a female Elvis fan, there's a pretty good chance you're either Team Ann or Team Priscilla.  I'm the latter.  So I refuse to watch any movies with Ann in them but I know the pop culture references so when this woman came out acting all nuts and twitchy, I knew what she was referencing.  The Mr, however, was like "what the hell is that crazy woman's problem???"  I laughed and said "that's how Ann Margret acted" and when we got home I had him watch a video of them together in Viva Las Vegas and he was like "wow, okay.  I guess that woman was spot on.  She was a spaz!"



The band was AMAZING.  All were very talented and some did antics, particularly the bassist on his big slap bass but it wasn't antics in a cheesy way.  Very entertaining and I'd pay just to see them in the future.



Honestly, one of the biggest kicks I got was just looking out over the sea of white haired ladies with big smiles plastered on their faces because you could see they were reliving something.  Everyone was bonded together by their love of Elvis and that's a beautiful thing.  We enjoyed singing our favorites and clapping along.  It was a fun night out and now I can say I've not just seen an Elvis impersonator but the ones of the highest regard where EPE is concerned.

So if you're an Elvis fan and want a fun night out with fellow Elvis family, I'd say hit the show up if it comes to your town.  It's worth seeing at least once and if you do, bring some gum and get ready to pucker up!

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1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a fun show. I'm not a huge Elvis fan, and even less of an impersonator fan, but I like Elvis enough that I think a show like that would be really fun.

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