Turner's Tale by Lynne Turner
There are Elvis fans and then there are ELVIS FANS. A friend is one of the latter. She has loved ‘the King of Rock and Roll’ ever since she was a teenager with his photo taped to her bedroom wall, cried for hours when he died at age 42 back in 1977 and has Elvis memorabilia throughout her home. When a group of us traveled to Drayton recently to see “Blue Suede Shoes: Memories of the King” she wore her ‘Elvis earrings’ and couldn’t believe she had forgotten her ‘Elvis purse’. I’m surprised she didn’t wear blue suede shoes.
And she loved the show…. We all loved the show, but then what was not to love? Drayton has another big hit on its hands. It runs through Oct. 6 and, if you’re lucky, you can still get a ticket as for some unknown reason “Blue Suede Shoes: Memories of the King” isn’t completely sold out as many Drayton Festival shows seem to be.
Roy LeBlanc, one of the top performing live tributes in the world, portrays Elvis and that man can sing an Elvis song almost as well as Elvis himself. He is a two-time Canadian Champion at the Collingwood Elvis Festival and the first Canadian named World’s Finest Elvis Tribute in Las Vegas. Chris McHarge – the director and set director -- portrayed the cigar-chomping Colonel Tom Parker at the performance we were at and he also did a stellar job he wandered on and off the stage, narrating the story of how he brought Elvis the fame and fortune he craved.
Although Mr. LeBlanc doesn’t look exactly like Elvis, there’s a striking resemblance, but that didn’t matter because a large screen set up at the side of the stage showed continuous snippets of the real Elvis from various interviews and movies throughout the years when he reigned supreme. Did you know that Elvis churned out 33 movies beginning with “Love Me Tender” in 1956? Did you know that most of his movies were made quickly and cheaply to keep costs as low as possible while at the same time keeping profits high? And did you know that Barbra Streisand personally picked Elvis to star with her in “A Star is Born” but Colonel Parker nixed the idea? Did you know Colonel Parker was totally against Elvis recording the gospel album that won him a Grammy? Did you know that Elvis when preparing for a concert in Jacksonville, Florida was told by the police that if moved anything more than his little finger on stage he would be arrested for lewd conduct?
True Elvis fans like my friend will, of course, know all of the above but I learned most of it while watching “Blue Suede Shoes” in Drayton. I realized that I only knew Elvis as the devastatingly handsome young man who swiveled his hips and curled his lip in the late night movies I watched as teenager. I knew the overweight Elvis in the white suit with hits such as “In the Ghetto” and “My Way.” It made me sad when the news came over the radio that Elvis had died. After seeing “Blue Suede Shoes” it makes me even sadder that the world lost him at such a young age, that he was forced to make all those campy movies that he didn’t even want to make, that the fame and fortune he craved left him dying alone in his bathroom.
If you can, call the Drayton Box Office and get your tickets to see “Blue Suede Shoes: Memories of the King.” I know you’ll be glad you did, no matter what type of Elvis fan you are.