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'Elvis Lives' brings new level of production to Presley tribute

Mar. 18, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Elvis Presley has been dead for more than 35 years now, yet his musical legacy remains strong. Not long after this death, however, the exploitation of his sound and image kicked into high gear.

A one point, the television show "Saturday Night Live" famously parodied the phenomenon with a skit that showed the late singer's sequined stage coat swinging on a hangar while supposedly touring America, symbolizing the vultures who were trying to make a buck off of Presley's ghost.

Then, of course, the Elvis impersonator industry went on to new and cheesy heights after his untimely demise. During the last three and a half decades, there have been some Elvis impersonators who have taken The King of Rock and Roll's heritage seriously, working off of a true love for Presley. Others have not.

The producers of the traveling stage show "Elvis Lives," which comes to Ashland's Paramount Arts Center, 1300 Winchester Ave., on March 26, have the right approach. The multi-media production focuses on four different periods of Presley's life by bringing in new talent to portray the legendary entertainer at his best.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26. Tickets range from $30 to $50. Tickets and more information are available online at www.paramountartscenter.com or by phone at 606-324-3175.

"Elvis Lives -- The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event," is in the midst of a 60-city run on its current 2012-13 tour. What the producers have done is to hire talented Elvis impersonators who have made the finals of the official Presley estate-sanctioned Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in recent years. Each performer was chosen for their unique ability to represent Presley at various phases of his 42 years.

The singers performing in "Elvis Lives" include: Leo Days, who portrays Elvis in all of his youthful 1950s glory; Kevin Mills, who brings the early 1960s 'Movie Era" Elvis to life; Ben Klein dons the black leather and recreates The King's late 1960s comeback TV show stage; and Bill Cherry puts on the jumpsuit and takes Presley to his 1970s Las Vegas period.

Unlike many Elvis impersonator acts who perform to canned music, these singers work with a live band onstage. And as an added treat, Lorri Russo recreates the movie star and singer Ann-Margret, whom Presley starred and sung with in the movie "Viva Las Vegas."

This production of "Elvis Lives" is closely connected to the official Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. entity, which has provided the show with unique pictures of The King from the collection at Graceland, as well as displays to be shown in the lobby.

From the look of the "Elvis Lives" Facebook page, where the production crew takes a picture of the audience from the stage on almost every night, this show is bringing in large crowds of all ages. And, if you go and you're lucky, you just might get a scarf.

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