By George Dixon
Elvis has always been a controversial figure; you may love Elvis or loathe him, take him, or leave him, but there is one thing for sure, Elvis and his music became a Musical Revolution.
This new production, Elvis: A Musical Revolution, is an amazingly high-energy performance.
That is non-stop entertainment for the whole family.
Despite rumours about Elvis being abducted by aliens, there is no doubt that “Elvis is in the building.”
The house is buzzed with excitement, many of the audience arriving in costume and glammed up, ready to be blown away by the experience that is Elvis Presley.
The opening number, “C C Rider”, with all the bells and whistles, puts the audience on notice, telling you to hang on to your seats; this will be one heck of a show. With a showstopper like that, one wonders where to go from here.
You know you are in good hands with David Venn as its Producer and Alister Smith as the Director. The sensitivity and the presentation of the person that is Elvis provides a greater insight into the life of Elvis from the age of eleven to the celebration of his ’68 Comeback Special.
While the events tend to be in chronological order, there are flashbacks to the past through meaningful scenes with the younger Elvis that provides an understanding of the present and past.
To assist the audience, the producers have shown the timeline dates and, at times, a backdrop of black and white film footage.
Some of the film footage of Elvis is very cleverly done using Rob Mallett (Elvis) and the rest of the cast to maintain the continuity of stage characters.
The production allows the audience to feel the emotional ups and downs, including Elvis’s love for his parents and the impact of his mother’s death. The frustrations around his musical perfection. His love towards Lisa Marie as a baby and his divorce from Priscilla. It also gives us an insight into Colonel Parker (Elvis’s manager), the things that mattered to him and how he bullied Elvis.
Elvis: A Musical Revolution is a collaboration of production teams, cast and crew, all knitted together in a seamless two-hour plus a twenty-minute interval. The production values are 100% on point, with little movement for error.
With Michael Ralph’s Choreography, the audience experiences solid Rock and Roll with its speed, energy, and precision. It is obvious that the dancing Troupe has a lot of fun performing the dance elements.
Isaac Lummis (Costume Design) and Trent Whitmore (Wigs, Hair and Makeup Design) have indeed collaborated in presenting authentic styles, colours and variations of outfits suitable for each character across the timelines.
Special mention to Kirby Burgess (Ann-Margret), whose stage presence was like a breath of fresh air. Not only was it a realistic representation of Margret, her dance moves, persona, costume and wig worked well in enhancing her credibility.
On the flip side, I found the segment with Elvis and Frank Sinatra a bit flat in terms of Sinatra; however, redemption comes when they perform the famous exchange of singing each other’s signature tune Love Me Tender and Witchcraft.
Ian Stenlake (Colonel Parker) is excellent in his portrayal of Parker, with no frills and a “straight down-the-barrel approach. One of the killer lines was “buy an “I love Elvis” sticker for a dollar.” You don’t love Elvis. No problem. Buy an “I hate Elvis sticker for a dollar.” The bullying of Elvis is accelerated through the Colonel committing Elvis to one film after the other, even though the storylines become more Idiotic each time.
Noni McCallum (Gladys Presley) Presents a loving mother with strong Christian values who was undoubtedly a huge positive influence on the young Elvis, which continued into Elvis’s adulthood. McCallum’s Mezzo voice is pleasant and soothing, which complements her character. Her use of minimal staging contrasts nicely with her cameo appearances throughout the show.
Rob Mallett (Elvis): from the moment the spotlight finds Mallett, it is clear it is Elvis on stage. Keeping in mind that Elvis: A Musical Revolution is not a “Tribute” presentation but a storyline of Elvis and how he and his music became a Musical Revolution. We witness a shy, nervous wannabe morphing into the Iconic showman that the world knows as Elvis Presley. The contrast between Elvis the Man, and Elvis the Performer is very apparent. Mallett’s Base Baritone is reminiscent of Elvis; with his physical appearance and characteristic moves one cannot help to become convinced that we are seeing the real deal, particularly by the conclusion of the night.
Elvis: A Musical Revolution is a fast-paced, high-energy unfolding bio-musical that is extremely entertaining on many different levels.
While the hits are presented in a “Juke Box” style, the Elvis experience is entirely satisfying.
For more information and tickets: https://elvisamusicalrevolution.com.au/