Love me Tender had its UK Premiere at the Opera House tonight following a name change after a run on Broadway in 2005. Whilst we are not aware of the Broadway productions content we can safely say this incarnation is a superb night of Elvis classics performed by an energetic and dedicated cast.
Love me Tender is possibly the best ‘Juke Box’ musical since Mamma Mia and ‘We Will Rock You’ with the songs of Elvis Presley interwoven into the fabric of the story with ease. Yes there are some very corny links into the songs, but that is what makes this genre of musical theatre fun.
From the producers of Hairspray, Jersey Boys and West Side Story Love Me Tender is a hilarious feel-good musical featuring Elvis Presley’s greatest hits. In a small town in 1950s America, a guitar-playing, hip-swivelling stranger rides his motorbike into town. Is he The Devil in Disguise or a Hound Dog in his Blue Suede Shoes? The townsfolk are about to be All Shook Up and could be headed for Heartbreak Hotel, but for Natalie, the love-struck, tomboy mechanic, it really is Now or Never.
Packed with 25 of the best loved songs by The King himself, Love Me Tender, by the writer of the award-wining West End and Broadway smash hit Memphis, is a funny and moving tale of hope, second chances and the healing qualities of Rock 'n' Roll.
Whilst the star billing is given to Micha Paris (Sylvia) and Shaun Williamson (Jim) the stars of this show are without question the entire cast. Slick and energetic not one gives a bad performance despite this being the first venue on the UK tour.
Ben Lewis as Chad is a confident lothario who rides into town and immediately catches the eye of Natalie (Laura Tebbutt), but despite her best attempts does not quite get the same reaction from Chad. Geek, Dennis (Mark Anderson) however only has eyes for Natalie and will stop at nothing to make her notice him.
Lorraine (Aretha Ayeh), daughter of Sylvia embarks on a journey of her own with Dean (Felix Mosse) much to the disagreement of Matilda played by Sian Reeves. What plays out is a roller coaster journey of boy meets girl ending up in a triple wedding at the end of the show.
This show shines under the directorship and choreography from Karen Bruce who enables the scenes to seamlessly merge into one another with the help of an ingenious set from Morgan Large. There are some very clever transitions coupled with subtle (and not so subtle) visual jokes which tonight’s audience lapped up feverishly.
This show may be at the beginning of its journey around the UK, however the towns and cities it is planned to visit will not fail to fall in love with the story and its rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. With a planned transfer into the West End it seems Elvis is well and truly back in the building!
Reviewer: Paul Downham
Reviewed: 8th June 2015