MercyMe, The Spinners and Elvis to perform-
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.)
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.