Terry Wills enjoys the latest tribute to The King.
Elvis Presley; a 1950’s icon and the world’s most famous rock and roll artist, selling millions of records and guaranteeing massive audiences whether he was appearing live or on TV. Elvis’s popularity has never diminished and even now any production encapsulating his music becomes a must-see for those who will never forget his appeal.
Such an opportunity can now be seen and heard at the New Alexandra Theatre in Love me Tender. Not knowing the background of the production I automatically assumed it would be a trawl through many of his greatest hits. It was – but with a significant difference.
The storyline turns the Elvis story into a musical comedy, a highly energetic cast leaping around the stage and and thoroughly enjoying themselves, as were the audience.
Chad (Ben Lewis) turns up in a Way out West Puritanical town where mechanic Natalie falls head over heels in love with him. Her dad (Shaun Williamson) has the hots for Miss Sandra while Chad, despite Natalie’s pleading, also sets his sights on Miss Sandra. The complicated relationships are eventually resolved – or are they?
Jailhouse Rock, Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Blue Suede Shoes and more, together with frenetic, hip-swivelling dance routines, are set mainly against a clever, roustabout fairground, and were enthusiastically received.
My one reservation revolves around the musical arrangements, which were very different from the original renditions but judging from the audience’s reaction that made little difference.
Mica Paris’s is a splendid Sylvia, her rendition of Can’t Help Falling in Love outstanding. Sean Williamson steals the show in a romantic comedy role, drawing enthusiastic laughter, Ben Lewis struts his stuff as Chad and Laura Tebbut as lovestruck Natalie is suitably impressive..
At the final curtain the whole cast are encouraging the audience to join in a reprise; arms waving, voices strained, showing that they’d enjoyed a production which any Elvis devotee will love and proving that his music will always stand the test of time.
If you want more Elvis, here’s the opportunity.
Love Me Tender plays the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, until 29th August. Tickets www.atgtickets.com