By Bruce R. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
A wise man would have to say Elvis Presley was one of the best entertainers in the business.
And “Elvis Lives”? It’s definitive proof that the wise man was right. Covering four periods in the singer’s life, the tribute show (which played the Orpheum Theatre on Monday night) kindled much of the electricity, excitement and energy that surrounded the King.
Using four performers to represent specific periods, the show checked off a laundry list of hits, letting each “Elvis” show what made him popular in three decades.
Victor Trevino Jr., the young Elvis, had the most energy, bouncing around with abandon, singing those rock songs that got him in trouble with authorities. While Trevino didn’t look as much like Presley as the others, he had the singing and dancing ability to suggest Elvis wasn’t just another performer. He got the moves just right and did that crouch in a way that proved it wasn’t just an affectation.
Kevin Mills — as the movie-era Elvis — had the toughest job of the four. Those film songs were largely dreadful, but with Lori Russo (as a pretty spot-on Ann-Margret), he got enough out of Vegas to make it seem “viva” indeed.
Ben Klein as the “comeback” Elvis — the leather Elvis, to be more specific — was the most playful, joking with the audience and ad libbing about the virtues of plastic surgery. He complained about the leather, too, but did a nice job with a pseudo-acoustic set.
Bill Cherry, the 2009 Ultimate Elvis winner, closed the show as the “concert” Elvis, and it was easy to see why he has been hailed as one of the best tribute artists in the business. Cherry had the moves, the look and the voice to conjure plenty of memories. His salute to veterans was so strong it’s easy to see why Elvis still brings tears today.
The four segments were introduced by film clips — a great plus — and abetted by a talented orchestra and sextet of backup singers and dancers.
The show moved like a hunka-hunka burning love, offering ample evidence of Presley’s talents.
Oddly, a Cirque du Soleil tribute show (called “Viva Elvis,” currently running in Las Vegas) doesn’t have half the power of this. The reason? It lacks an Elvis impersonator. With four, “Elvis Lives” covers all the bases and then some.
Light-years better than last year’s “The Rat Pack is Back,” “Elvis Lives” makes you want to shout, throw your hands up and put on your blue suede shoes again. And again. And again.