As Steve Michaels says, the great thing about This Is Elvis (Brighton Theatre Royal, July 9-14), is that it isn’t just a guy in a jumpsuit standing in front of a band. Here you get a fascinating insight into the great Elvis story.
The show takes us back to 1968 when the major musical event of the year was the first live TV special for Elvis Presley in what would come to be known as The ’68 Comeback Special.
Drawing phenomenal ratings, the event re-established Elvis as the major entertainment star of the decade. 12 months later Elvis starred at the International Hotel in Vegas, performing live for the first time in seven years, so securing his place in history as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Steve is Elvis in a show marking 50 years since that celebrated comeback.
The show recreates all the drama leading up to the comeback as well as re-staging the monumental concert itself. It then proceeds with the King to his Vegas debut, featuring Elvis’s greatest hits including Trouble, Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, All Shook Up, Suspicious Minds and many more...
“It was 1968, and it was time that Elvis did something,” Steve explains. “He needed to recharge his career. He was very popular at one time, and he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, but while there was the British invasion, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones coming over to the States, Elvis was making all these fun movies of very little substance. Music was forgetting Elvis. The fans still loved him, of course, but music was forgetting him – and he needed to do something.
“The 1968 Comeback Special was conceived in order to put Elvis back into people’s minds. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the Comeback Special was actually supposed to be an NBC Christmas Special. But fortunately, the director, who at the time was a rebel of sorts in his field, said ‘There is no way you can recharge Elvis’ career with a Christmas special!’ It just wouldn’t have done enough for his music credibility. So they came up with this idea of showing what Elvis was all about with his musical roots, and so you get the black-clad Elvis sitting with his friends. It was a question of finding the image. It was great. It was so raw. It was how he needed to be. By the end of the Comeback Special he was back on track.”
And it was the Colonel, Elvis’ manager, who then insisted he go off to Vegas – crucial to cementing his rock ‘n’ roll legacy...’