This is Elvis at Theatre Royal, Brigton
This Is Elvis
When Sarah told me, she couldn’t make it to review This is Elvis, I was excited to review it in her place, having seen the show once before I was looking forward to seeing it again and this time from a different point of view having once loved it as an audience member.
But! Before I talk about the actual show itself I feel it’s important to explain that unfortunately for the cast and audience there was one lady in the third row, directly in the center that had definitely had one two many at the bar prior to the show that decided it was her job throughout the first act of the show to constantly remind the audience and the performers how much she loved Elvis at the top of her voice.
I could rant forever about theatre etiquette and lucky she was escorted out during the interval which was a performance in itself! But I cannot praise the cast of the show highly enough for their constant level of professionalism. They continued with the show ignoring the persistent heckling to the highest standard and all deserve recognition for this alone.
But moving on to the show! The show follows the story of how Elvis first came to perform in Vegas and the impact that had on his health, life and friendships. The first half is more story based with scenes intermixed among the music, setting you up perfectly for the concert style second act. It begins with a scene of Elvis going live on television for the first time since he transitioned into movies. It builds up the anticipation of seeing Elvis with a will he won’t he perform situation. These opening scenes are lead by ‘Steve Binder’ played by Benjamin Stratton. Stratton sets the show up perfectly before later returning as a member of Elvis’s band where he shows just how multitalented he is by playing the guitar and adding various vocal harmonies.
We then of course meet Elvis himself, well pretty much as he is portrayed by the polished Steve Michaels who oozes experience and detail in his performance as Elvis. The older ladies in the audience automatically swooned over every word and movement. Michaels has been portraying Elvis for many years and you can tell on stage as he has Elvis down to a fine art. As well as sounding incredible he also adds a lovely depth to the story with his acting. His vocals shine during his first false tab ‘An American Trilogy.’ He leads his wonderful cast with strength.
Elvis is accompanied throughout the show by his two best friends ‘Joe’ and ‘Charlie’ played by Reuven Gershon and Mark Pearce. Both play lovely roles and are entertaining to watch adding light hearted moments throughout the first half. Gershon is brilliant in the role of ‘Joe’ Elvis’s best friend and is impossible not to watch, even when he is only playing in the back he has a natural charisma on stage.
The rest of the cast is made up of Elvis’s band and his back up singers. Each cast member of this show has a moment no matter how small to stand out and not one of those moments is missed! From the band playing effortlessly and making the songs sound ready to record to the seamless harmonies from the girls, this show is slick and together and has clearly been well rehearsed and drilled.
The Band is made up of 10 actor-musicians all who play, sing and act in various scenes. While all brilliant Andre Bowerman who plays ‘Billy’ and the trumpet as an instrument has a lovely voice that becomes clear when he has a moment singing harmonies for Elvis. Niall Kerrigan also stands out for his excellent skill on lead guitar throughout, playing every solo given with perfection.
We also have the three girls that sing back up for Elvis, who do not fade into the background but work well as a group while still keeping clear individuality. Chevone Stewart (Estelle) sings a small solo section in ‘Oh Happy Days’ and sounds flawless. While Misha Malcolm (Sylvia) bursts with energy in her movement and her clear enthusiasm is infectious.
There isn’t a weak link in this cast and the show is a great night out at the theatre. With not a long run left this is one not to be missed! No need to be an Elvis fan it’s a great night at the theatre and performed masterfully. The song list is a crowd pleaser and everybody is guaranteed to know nearly every song! Some stand out numbers being ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and the songs everybody jumps to their feet to ‘Burning Love’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
So, no matter if you’re an Elvis fan or not get to one of the remaining theatres on the tour for a night you won’t forget.
Review by Sarah-Leanne Howe.
This is Elvis is playing at the Theatre Royal, Brighton until 14th July. To find out more about This is Elvis visit their website.