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This is Elvis, Palace Theatre Manchester

Review by Ian Hills, Monday 11th June

The Palace Theatre rocked – Elvis was in the house!

Internationally-renowned, award-winning, Steve Michaels, starred as Elvis Presley, alongside the Jordanaires and the Sweet Inspirations.

It’s 1968 and we open to the studios of NBC for the live coast-to-coast ‘68 Comeback TV special, the major musical event of the year. It is the first live TV special for Elvis Presley, with massive ratings. This event re-establishes Elvis as the King of entertainment and, twelve months later, Elvis stars at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, performing live for the first time in seven years and securing his place in history as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This production celebrates 50 years since the TV phenomenon and is a testament that his songs live on and the King still rules!

‘This Is Elvis’ recreates all the drama leading up to the comeback, as well as staging the monumental concert, it then proceeds to his Las Vegas debut featuring Elvis’s greatest hits including Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, All Shook Up and many more.

The TV special shows us the obvious talent of Steve Michaels, with his deep baritone voice, in songs like Trouble, Guitar Man, Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, All Shook Up, Love me Tender, it could be Elvis himself in the 50’s and 60’s.

After reading the brilliant reviews for the TV special back at Graceland, Elvis decides he wants to go back on the road touring but his manager, Colonel Parker, has other ideas; he has booked him a season in Las Vegas.

During the rehearsals for the Las Vegas show, we hear classics like the Beatles ‘Get Back’, Bee Gees ‘Words’, The Edwin Hawkins Singers ‘Oh Happy Day’, and Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ which the audience loved as it was so moving.

After the interval we are at the opening show in Las Vegas. There is hit after hit of Elvis’s greatest songs. Steve Michaels, wearing the classic Elvis white jumpsuit, fills the stage with his persona, and when we see the hip shaking, the gyrating, the arm movements, mannerisms and facial expressions, it could be Elvis himself we are seeing and hearing on stage. We are treated to the songs he is famous and remembered for like Viva Las Vegas, In the Ghetto, It’s Now or Never, Always on my Mind and Suspicious Minds.

I went to the Elvis exhibition at the O2 in London last year and watched the ‘68 TV Comeback show and his Las Vegas shows. This production was as close as you can get to the real Elvis Presley in performance.

For me, the show was only let down by the opening. I would have liked to have seen more songs from the ‘68 Comeback TV special but this was made up for after the interval with the Las Vegas concert.

The lasting impression was of an audience on their feet, dancing and singing along. This is not a tribute act but Steve Michaels’s brilliant interpretation of a music legend. A 10-piece band, backing singers, incredible sets, lighting, and costumes made it an exciting musical theatre experience and I would recommend you go and see this even if you are not an Elvis fan.

This Is Elvis, Palace Theatre, Manchester until Saturday 16th June.

To book tickets call 0844 871 7615

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