Until 17 December
Elvis lives. I dare say many the world over would hope that isn’t just a throwaway line, rather a reality.
The truth is the legend of Elvis does live on. Not for naught is he still referred to as The King.
Elvis: A Musical Revolution explores the life and times of one of the world’s truly great singers, performers and entertainers.
The musical highlights his metamorphosis from humble beginnings to a breakout, affluent star.
The show frequently moves time frames, spanning 1947 to 1968. Elvis was born in Tulepo, Mississippi on 8th January, 1935 and died is Memphis on 16th August, 1977.
A Musical Revolution spends considerable time focusing on Elvis’ childhood. That includes his relationship with his mother and his early interest in what was considered “black” music.
It highlights his charming and gentle relationship with his childhood sweetheart.
A scene shows him courting his future wife Priscilla and then we see the volatility that followed.
The production tracks Elvis’ first recording session at US independent record label Sun Records and how its then struggling founder Sam Phillips hit the jackpot.
Presley’s profile grew after Phillips struck a deal with Elvis’ soon to be long-time
manager Colonel Tom Parker, who secured him extensive, national TV coverage.
His time in the US Army, after being conscripted, isn’t overlooked either.
From mailable to maniacal is how the musical transitions Presley from Act I to Act II.
Rob Mallett is sensational as Elvis. What a voice! What timbre in that vocalisation.
What moves! Mallett deftly and seemingly effortlessly channels the great man.
Noni McCallum excels as his empathetic and encouraging mother, Gladys … with
Matt Heyward as his father, Vernon.
Ian Stenlake has a larger-than-life presence as the cigar chomping manager who
guided Elvis’ career. While strong willed, he isn’t tarred with the same brush as the
villainous figure (portrayed by Tom Hanks) in the movie Elvis (2022).
Ben Hall gives voice to the frustrations of record producer Sam Phillips, who
pounded the pavement trying to get airplay for Elvis’ music in the early days.
He also has a splendid turn as Frank Sinatra in a duet with Presley.
Kirby Burgess is a standout in two roles, actress Ann-Margret, who starred in four
movies alongside Elvis, and Phillips’ supportive assistant and calming force, Marion.
Sienna Embrey is sweet natured and supportive as Presley’s high school girlfriend, Dixie.
Annie Chiswell makes her mark as Priscilla, firstly as Elvis woos her, guitar in hand,
and later showing her discontent with her inattentive and wayward husband.
Four children – Orlando Corelli-Tapia, Luca Dahan, Daniel Lam and Sebastian
Dovey Cribbes – alternate the important role of the amiable kid Elvis.
The set design, based around tandem rows of Hollywood vanity lighting, with a large, red “Elvis” sign initially taking centre stage, hits the mark. Dan Potra is responsible.
Props, representing a record store, a recording booth, a television studio and more, are readily wheeled on and off stage.
Neon signage displays locations such as Sun Records.
Lighting by Declan O’Neill and sound design by a Greg Ginger give the show the theatricality it warrants.
Real life video footage from designer David McKinnon provides authenticity.
Starting with black leather and encompassing a pristine white jump suit, Elvis is decked out in an array of evocative costumes, courtesy of Isaac Lummis.
With book by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti, Elvis: A Musical Revolution is based on a concept by Floyd Mutrux.
Direction is from Alister Smith, with Daniel Puckey responsible for musical direction
and fine choreography from Michael Ralph.
As much as the show is about the man, it is also his incredible music legacy.
From Burning Love to Heartbreak Hotel, from Hound Dog to All Shook Up, the songs continue to resonate.
From Blue Suede Shoes to Are You Lonesome Tonight, from Heartbreak Hotel to
Jailhouse Rock and Suspicious Minds – what a triumphant repertoire.
Elvis: The Musical Revolution brings to life the phenomenal and enduring impact of one man and his God-given gift.
A slick production, with a superb lead in Mallett, the show is well worth experiencing.
It is playing at Athenaeum Theatre until 17th December, 2023.
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