Elvis comes to life again at the Fox

Photo courtesy of Elvis Lives

On Saturday, Jan. 31, the Fox Theatre hosted a tribute performance to the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis Lives is a touring show that features three Elvis Presley impersonators, four background singers, a band and an Ann-Margret tribute artist from Elvis’s time as a co-star in their Viva Las Vegas movie.

The show had an interesting set-up, where more than one Elvis  was never seen until the very last song, when all three came out to perform together. Between songs, while the three were switching out backstage, they played slide shows, recordings and videos from Elvis’s life telling his story, mostly in his own words.

Elvis Lives goes through Presley’s life chronologically, performing choice songs in order, backed by the audio clips to show progression. Bill Cherry, the tribute artist who had the honor of wearing Elvis’s famed eagle jumpsuit, remarked “Have you ever seen someone age so quickly right before your eyes?” The performance amounted to a rather interesting biography starting with a recording in which Elvis reflects on his first song in 1954, when he was 19 years old.

With the layout of the show, usually having but one Elvis impersonator on stage at a time, the audience was left to discern who was who for themselves. The easiest answer would be to look at their hair, as the three have modeled their jet black locks after different periods of Elvis Presley’s life. Of course, one could distinguish them by their talent as well.

Sadly, in the case of Jay Dupuis, this was not much of a problem, as he sounded little like Elvis Presley. Though he might be a fine singer in his own right, as a tribute artist, he could use a bit of practice.

The other two tribute artists, Dean Z and Bill Cherry, were a little bit more troublesome to tell apart, as both did fantastic jobs portraying Presley’s mannerisms and voice. In 2009, Cherry won the world wide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and, in 2013, Dean Z did the same. The two seemed to truly enjoy themselves onstage and the excitement was catching, enveloping everyone in the theatre and creating a nostalgic yet enthusiastic atmosphere.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this performance, what truly sets it apart from merely watching old Elvis performances online or on television, would be the audience. Near the beginning of the show, while performing “Love Me Tender,” no fewer than six people went up to the stage in order to receive a kiss from “Elvis.” After this song, each impersonator went out of his way to accommodate the audience. During several songs, a long line formed of women hoping to be noticed by the tribute artists. In addition to kisses, the three gave out a teddy bear and several silk scarves. At times, this enthusiasm was quite comical, especially when Bill Cherry learned that silk does not fly all that well. Near the end of the performance, two women even gave Cherry a homemade blanket.

Outside of their direct interaction with the performers, the audience members were still just as fun to watch as the actual show. Many were dancing in their seats and generally having a grand time, which added to the entertainment instead of distracting from it.

After going through blues, gospel, rock and even patriotic songs, Elvis Lives did indeed come to a close. Once the curtains had dropped, an announcer came over a loudspeaker and said, in the last tribute of the night “Elvis has left the building.” It just would not have been an Elvis Presley show without this final touch.

Our Take: 5/5