Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Viva Elvis!

Cirque Du Soleil Elvis style

When it comes to Elvis Presley and Las Vegas you might have thought you'd seen and heard it all.

The King's name is synonymous with the City of Sin - from the countless impersonators, Elvis-inspired wedding chapels, and numerous dedication shows.

But a new Cirque Du Soleil extravaganza, playing in the city Elvis spent so much time in as an entertainer, is injecting new life into the late star - more than 30 years after his death. Called Viva Elvis, it is based on Elvis's music, career and personal life, taking in his humble beginnings, army service, death of his twin brother, marriage to Priscilla, and of course his Vegas show days.

It features about 30 Elvis songs, but in a respectful twist, there's no vocal impersonator. Rather the songs feature Elvis' vocals backed by a live band, sped up to give a modern edge with some sung by a woman. Emotion is the theme of the day with this show as you can't help but feel something, Elvis fan or not. There are video montages with some never seen before footage. His personal life and relationship with Priscilla dominates as she had a lot do with the show as an adviser and collaborator.

There's a building-sized wedding cake with Priscilla and Elvis labelled across the bottom and a female singer standing on the top, while there's also a ballet performed inside wedding rings to illustrate their love, to the song Can't Help Falling In Love. An acrobatic number on a huge guitar represents the sadness Elvis felt at never knowing his twin brother, who was stillborn, played to the ballad One Night. There's also colour, action, and high energy, with Jailhouse Rock, and Viva las Vegas, featuring 40 Elvis impersonators.

Traditional Cirque Du Soleil fans, however, may be disappointed as it is more about storytelling than acrobatics. But playing at the new 2000 seat Elvis theatre at the new Aria Resort & Casino at City Center in Las Vegas - since February - there is no better place for this show. This is the city where Elvis spent many of his performing days. He first played in Las Vegas at the age of 21 in 1956, at the New Frontier Hotel, where he was billed The Atomic Powered Singer. Then in the early 1960s he spent weeks in the town filming the movie Viva Las Vegas. But it was his appearances there over the years 1969 to 1976 that cemented his legendary status and eternal link with the City of Sin.

Cirque shows, from the famous Canadian circus entertainment company, have been playing in Vegas since the early 1990s, finding their natural home.
The Elvis show comes as the acrobatic circus shows diversify to take on legendary musicians following the success of Love, which features the music of The Beatles.
Next on the cards is a Cirque show as a tribute to the late king of pop Michael Jackson.
But for now, it's all about Elvis - especially as the King would've celebrated his 75th birthday this year.
Expectations are that it will become one of the longest-running Cirque shows.

Viva Las Vagas! Viva Elvis! Long Live the King!

Until next time keep rockin'
The 0800 Jukebox crew.

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