Dates and Venue March 22 – 27, 2016 at 8pm, Sat & Sun matinees at 2pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Reviewer Ed Farolan
What a show! A full spectacle! The audience was mesmerized by the charisma of tribute artist Steve Michaels who looked like the King of Rock 'n Roll, dressed up like him, moved like him, and even little idiosyncratic gestures of rubbing his eyes and the southern drawl in his voice. A well-deserved standing ovation on opening night for this 42-year old artist.
This musical tribute to Elvis Presley featured over 30 singers, dancers and musicians on stage, Michaels delivered the King's greatest iconic songs with gusto: "Heartbreak Hotel", "Suspicious Minds", "Love Me Tender", and many more during this two-hour concert. From the King’s beginnings in Memphis, to the amazing '68 Comeback Special, to the historic Aloha from Hawaii concert, the openng night audience relived the music that changed rock and roll forever.
What got me about this show was firstly, a Canadian Elvis from Ontario (read Interview below); secondly, he is 42, the year Elvis died. It was like seeing Elvis resurrected; and thirdly, although there was no program, I was informed that the show's narrator plays the role of an "uber fan."
One last thing, which I found funny, was that old ladies in their seventies and eighties, going for a kiss or a scarf that Michaels was giving away, just like Elvis did in his concerts. Old ladies, mind you! Not a single young one, except for a little one who was probably 10.
This was indeed entertaining and on my part, nostalgic, as I grew up seeing Elvis rise from his beginnings in the 1950s to his peak in 1968 and then his Las Vegas concerts in the 1970s until his death in 1977. I saw practically all his movies, from the very good ones, Jailhouse Rock, Love Me Tender, Viva Las Vegas, to the mediocre ones filmed in Hawaii.
This is a must-see concert. Go get your tickets before they're sold out.
© 2016 Ed Farolan
An interview with Steve Michaels (Elvis)
Interviewer John Jane
On March 22 (2016) Steve Michaels comes to Vancouver to open the first of six shows in his tribute to Elvis Presley. Return to Grace comes to Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre as part of its 2016 Canadian tour before continuing on to onto Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.
Earlier this week, I reached Steve by telephone at his home in Milton, Ontario. He told me how much he was relishing kicking off the Western leg of his show’s tour. “After fifteen years of doing this great gig, I’m looking forward to see how you folks on the west coast take to it.”
Steve is still only in his mid-forties, so he was very young when the King died nearly 40 years ago. “I was just old enough to hear his music on the radio and see some of his live concerts on television, but I’ve been an über-fan ever since” he recalls.
“I’ve been representing Elvis on stage for around fifteen years now and I wouldn’t want to change anything” Steve enthuses. “I started doing my show at the Collingwood Elvis Festival. Then, a few years ago Rob Asselstine of RGA Music approached me about being part of Return to Grace. Initially he wanted three different performers representing separate facets of Elvis’s career. Happily, I managed to convince Rob that he only needed one Elvis - me.”
I asked Steve how tightly is the show scripted? “Really, it’s only the songs that follow a rehearsed format. We have Bob Stoeckle who is seen on stage providing the show’s narrative, but my dialogue is improvised on how I read the audience that night.”
Of course, there are possibly tens of thousands of “Elvis” impersonators performing with varying degrees of sincerity. So, I asked him how he manages to stand out. “I started as a kid performing for my family. I’ve been a student of Elvis for many years, watching and listening to him - practising and improving. This is now my professional life.”
“Elvis was a natural baritone with virtually a tenor range (a bari-tenor). How close is your natural timbre to Elvis's voice?” I asked “I’ve been told that my natural singing voice is close to Elvis.” Steve continued “In his earlier career he was definitely a tenor, but later he sang gospel music as a baritone.” “This is one of the nuances I attempt to deliver to the audience” he added.
Steve’s English wife also performs in the show as a dancer. He makes an annual pilgrimage to Graceland (Elvis’s former home) “I’ve visited Graceland around fifteen times – I go back there to say thank you to the king – I owe him a lot.”
© 2016 John Jane