Mer­cyMe, The Spin­ners and Elvis to per­form-

Texarkana Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Aaron Brand

All the great things about the King of Rock and Roll come alive on the Perot Theatre stage Satur­day, March 4, through a multi-me­dia sur­vey of Elvis through the ages.

It’s “Elvis Lives,” a show that brings to­gether three win­ners of the World Wide Ul­ti­mate Elvis Trib­ute Artist Con­test at Grace­land. Each tal­ented, top Elvis trib­ute artist por­trays a dif­fer­ent era: Dean Z with the early ca­reer and a come­back spe­cial, Jay Dupuis with the movie years and Bill Cherry with the con­cert years that rounded out an illustrious ca­reer.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. for this re­turn trip to the Perot for “Elvis Lives.” The show played here five years ago.

“I do the Elvis of the 1970s in the show. There are three Elvises, in­clud­ing my­self,” said Cherry, not­ing there’s also an Ann-Mar­garet (played by Carol Mac­cri) in the cast. Cherry won his Grace­land con­test in 2009, about 20 years after he first started get­ting in­volved in Elvis com­pe­ti­tions.

As the con­cert-era Elvis, Cherry gets to have fun sport­ing the capes and jump­suits The King wore back then. It’s a style Cherry en­joys.

“Be­ing able to por­tray that on stage is such a great feel­ing,” Cherry said, not­ing the ti­tle all three Elvis trib­ute artists in the show hold has only been held by 10 peo­ple. So, it’s a small but re­spected group of trib­ute artists who bring Elvis to life on stage.

“I grew up in the ’70s so I’ve al­ways liked the ’70s era of Elvis Pres­ley,” Cherry said, re­fer­ring to the rings, jump­suits and other stylish cloth­ing Elvis adopted in this era. He likens it to play­ing Su­per­man. “He was the king of bling back then.”

As Cherry ex­plains it, Elvis had a full orches­tra be­hind him dur­ing the time and for this show they’ll be ac­com­pa­nied by a live band. Through­out the show, nar­ra­tion with au­dio and video comes from Elvis him­self with ma­te­rial from the Grace­land ar­chives used for this pur­pose.

With this show, the au­di­ence gen­er­ally spans the gen­er­a­tions. As an en­ter­tainer, Elvis touched peo­ple of all ages. “It’s an all ages show,” Cherry said, call­ing it a time cap­sule for some, one that “takes ev­ery­one back to a hap­pier time in their life.” And with three dif­fer­ent per­form­ers putting their per­son­al­ity into the show, it be­comes even more fun, he says.

By the end, the au­di­ence will be sing­ing along. For peo­ple who’ve seen Elvis be­fore, Cherry said, “this will trig­ger their mem­o­ries, with­out ques­tion.” And for oth­ers who never got to see Elvis live in con­cert, this is as close to the real deal as they can get, he be­lieves.

Show pro­moter Mark Ko­gan, part of the “Elvis Lives” pro­duc­tion team, said the show has evolved since it last came to the Perot Theatre. And this year is a spe­cial one when it comes to the legacy of Elvis, four decades since his pass­ing.

“It’s re­ally sort of a cel­e­bra­tion of his life on the 40th an­niver­sary of his death,” Ko­gan said, not­ing these best of the best in Elvis trib­ute artists will get peo­ple on their feet.

They say the show starts with the young Elvis and his gold lamé jacket, then pro­gresses into the Elvis era when he was a star on the big screen. The Elvis gospel num­bers are here, too, in “Elvis Lives.”

“The peo­ple will get a def­i­nite vi­sion and take on what it was like to see Elvis Pres­ley at any given mo­ment in his mu­si­cal ca­reer,” Cherry said. Among his num­bers to per­form are “Burn­ing Love” and “Sus­pi­cious Minds.” These are the sorts of songs he’d grow up hear­ing, cour­tesy of his mom, an Elvis fan.

Cherry’s own con­nec­tion to be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful trib­ute artist is, it­self, a won­der­ful story. When he first im­per­son­ated Elvis, it was more as a hobby. Later, when he was a pro­fes­sional welder, he was un­for­tu­nately laid off from his job. But life had a sur­prise in store for him.

A friend in­tro­duced him to a com­pe­ti­tion that the Elvis es­tate was in­volved in, this friend sug­gest­ing Cherry give it a go.

“I started out try­ing to sing a lit­tle bit and check­ing out my look to see if I could still make it hap­pen,” Cherry re­called.

Well, he won a pre­lim­i­nary com­pe­ti­tion in Tu­pelo, Miss., the home­town of Elvis, in 2009. Then he won the ul­ti­mate con­test it­self in Mem­phis, Tenn. He went from los­ing his job to win­ning a $20,000 con­test. Now, he’s on the road with “Elvis Lives.”

“It’s re­ally been a bless­ing for me and a dream come true for this to hap­pen to me,” said Cherry.

(Tick­ets: $52, $47, $37. Front row VIP tick­ets in­clude a mee­tand-greet for $77. More info and ticket pur­chase: TRAHC.org or 903-792-4992.)

Sub­mit­ted photo

n “Elvis Lives” brings to­gether three win­ners of the World Wide Ul­ti­mate Elvis Trib­ute Artist Con­test at Grace­land. Each Elvis trib­ute artist por­trays a dif­fer­ent era of the singer’s life. The show comes to the Perot Theatre on Satur­day, March 4.

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