Elvis: The Musical
Review by Darren Dalglish
The sets were non existent and the two young Elvis's were just not up to it. They were pretty and they sounded ok but they just could not move anywhere near the way Elvis did, it all looked false. The person that saved the show for me was PJ Proby who played the older Elvis. He put so much in to his role, he had conviction and respect for the late man, he was the most convincing.
If the writers had concentrated more on his life story and had more dialogue then maybe the unconvincing young Elvis's might not have mattered so much. But, because they just decided to put on song after song with no story it was important that the young Elvis's were up to it, sadly they were not. If you are Elvis fans then maybe it's worth seeing, otherwise stay away.
An Evening of Elvis would possibly have been a better title, for this is not a musical, more a revue, a montage of his music, and also that of some other performers of the era. I had been expecting the rags to riches story of The King of Rock & Roll, an insight into his character and a chance to learn a little more about the dramatic life of this legendary performer, who mesmerized millions and died a tragic death in 1977 at the age of forty two. But there are no scenes, no dialogue, in fact no real story to speak of (other than that the music is presently in a vaguely chronological order). The production was devised by Jack Good (producer of hit TV shows such as Oh Boy! and Six-Five Special) and Ray Cooney, King of West End Farce.
The title role was performed by not one but three singers, a Young, Middle and Mature Elvis, and these are alternated throughout. By far the best of the three was the young Elvis, played very convincingly by Alexander Bar, a newcomer with apparently no professional experience who just happened to hear of the auditions whilst listening to the radio one morning. He was probably the best Elvis impersonator I have ever seen. He played the role in a laid back manner, with a passion and richness of voice that was a joy to the ear. All around women were swooning, and he loved every minute!
Clayton Mark as Mature Elvis (understudying for P. J. Proby) bore less of a resemblance to the real thing He had a strong voice, although there were times Id have preferred emotion rather than power. He seemed a little unsure at the beginning, but he grew more comfortable and polished as the performance progressed.
Tim Whitnall (who played young Elvis in the original production back in 1977) was a disappointment as Middle Elvis. His voice did not possess the richness needed, and he looked nothing like the real thing. He seemed to try too hard and consequently his performance was clumsy and appeared sloppy.
There were incidental impersonations of other stars of the era, such as The Beverly Sisters, Tommy Steele and Marty Wilde, none of which were particularly convincing, although what the company lacked in style they made up for with enthusiasm and energy.
The set (designed by Andy Walmsley) consisted of a series of screens surrounding the stage, with stills and news footage of the real Mr. Presley projected onto them accompanying the live action on stage. It made the stage appear small and cluttered, and I feel a bit more imagination could have helped the production on its way.
If you fancy an evening listening to the music of Elvis Presley you may well enjoy this production, but all I would say is don't expect too much!
(Jason L Belne)