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A CurtainUp Review
Attack of the Elvis Impersonators
Embrace the outrageous and watch Elvismania unravel in the new musical, Attack of the Elvis Impersonators. With flashing lights and ear-blasting sound effects, Drac, former head of the Screaming Gallbladders From Hell, decides that his sky-rocketing fame has become too overwhelming. Played by Eric Sciotto (Shakespeare in Something Rotten ) Drac is burnt out from sex, drugs and Jack Bean. The remedy, he decides, is Elvis. "Uh, huh."
This turnabout comes on Drac's birthday, when his old friend, Matt Shadow (Curtis Wiley), presents him with a locket lost years ago. Overjoyed, Drac had dreamed that Elvis gave him the locket promising, "This heart’s gonna heal your broken one, my friend. Wear this and one day you too will be King." Elvis brings Drac out of his dark life in heavy metal and into enlightenment .
Free-wheeling and wacky with a nugget of positivism, the show was created by composer, lyricist, playwright Lory Lazarus who was working in a New York City restaurant in the 1980s when he saw a cabaret skit about an Elvis impersonator and immediately thought: "What would happen if there were thousands of Elvis impersonators. . .nay, millions of them, taking over the planet?"
Lazarus found there are followers who swear that Elvis not only lives on but some even make pilgrimages to Graceland to be healed by the King. Others worship him at altars in their homes or at the First Presbyterian Church of Elvis the Divine. Though an Elvis Presley fan, Lazarus decided to satirize the over-the-top worshippers.
Keeping an eye on details will keep you on track with the passing years. When Drac begins wearing the Elvis locket, the music abruptly switches backwards from Drac Frenzie's high decibel vocals and screaming guitars to the rockabilly sounds of '50's Elvis.
This is not a jukebox musical but there are influences from the Elvis songbook. "Spread the Word of Hound Dog," has the rhythm and spirit of, "Hound Dog." You'll hear snippets of familiarity in Drac's "Viva Milwaukee" and "This Is the Last Song." The score overall is funny and energetic, performed by talented singers, dancers, actors, all exuding a sense of fun in their period based choreography by Melissa Zaremba ( Smokey Joe's Cafe ).
Sciotto is unbeatable playing bilateral Drac. He's especially flexible with his Elvis dance moves and injecting that familiar sexy growl that sent 1950's teens swooning. As his love interest, Laura Woyasz plays Prissy Bordeaux, a fierce Drac fan and digital songwriter. Badia Farha is Sheila, relentless interviewer for the FUX Network and Curtis Wiley, looking cool in Superfly threads, showcases Matt's wailing harmonica and vocals in "Pancreatic Blues."
The Anti-Christ (alias Prince Moonga Sahna) is played by Jim Borstelmann who is kept busy playing various other roles. "The Evils of Elvis" (notice the spelling of Elvis and Evils), showcases the hilarious F.O.U.R. These include Christian Reverend Jeremiah Stonewall, Sister Mary Peter Paul, representing His Holiness the Pope, Rabbi Chaim Silvergoldberg, representing every synagogue in America and The Reverend Sum Young Moo, representing anything they forgot.
The passage of time is also evident through costumes. Designer Tracy Christensen ( Sunset Boulevard ) replaces the Drac era female's black goth minis with poodle skirts and beehives. Drac sheds his fake alligator rock pants for the various Elvis looks, metamorphosing from upturned collar and tight pants in the mid-'50's to heavy sequin splashes as Elvis moved into the late '60's and '70's. For Drac's Milwaukee "sermon," Christensen adds "cheeseheads" to the audience.
Paul Tate dePoo III's set glitters with gold lame draperies and red curtains over a wide doorway. Atop the door is a screen used for Shawn Duan's projections and Travis McHale's red lighting adds drama to the Anti-Christ. Directed by Don Stephenson ( Titanic ), the plot is choppy with drop-in, drop-out characters. The pace, particularly in the second act, is uneven where a little of the Elvis and Hound Dog mask shtick goes a long way and at this performance, the audience was hesitant about joining in with hound dog howls.
Still, in this disturbing world with shocking headlines and twisted tweets, you might be relieved with a nutty couple of hours of music, love, some good intentions and plenty of laughs. Howl-lelujah!
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Attack of the Elvis Impersonators
Book, Music and Lyrics: Lory Lazarus
Director: Don Stephenson
Music Direction, Arrangements, Orchestrations: Benjamin Rauhala
Musicians: Benjamin Rauhala on keyboard. Jeremy Yaddow (drums). Steve Marks (bass). Mark McCarron (guitar). Cast: Eric Sciotto, Laura Woyasz, Curtis Wiley, Michael Biren, Jim Borstelmann, Jesse Carrey-Beaver, Warren Kelley, Jeff Kready, Whit K. Lee, Alexandra Palkovic, Emily Jeanne Phillips, Catherine Walker, Jayme Wappel, Laura Woyasz
Set Design: Paul Tate dePoo III
Costume Design: Tracy Christensen
Lighting Design: Travis McHale
Projection: Shawn Duan
Sound Director: Josh Liebert
Production Stage Manager: Jaime Van Dyke
Running Time: 2 hours. One intermission
: The Lion Theatre 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues (212) 239-6200.
Performances: Mon., Thurs., Fri., Sat. at 8:00 pm. Sat. at 2:00 pm. Sun. at 3:00pm, 7:30pm.
Previews: 6/01/17. Opens: 06/15/17. Closes: 09/24/17--moved up to closing 7/30/17
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 06/10/17
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