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terça-feira, 15 de dezembro de 2009

Cirque du Soleil's 'Viva Elvis' serves the king
The show has a VIP opening tonight. 'It's not a show about Elvis, it's a show with Elvis,' the producer says.

A performer rehearses beside an Elvis statue for Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis," which has a VIP opening performance Tuesday night. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / December 14, 2009)

"Really, overall that's all he wanted," Ste-Croix said. "He was a great performer and he wanted to entertain the crowd. And that's what he did at the Hilton, that's what he did in the movies and that's what he did all his life."

Today, Cirque du Soleil, which already has six Las Vegas-based shows including "O," "Zumanity" and the Beatles homage "Love," is a brand name that defines Las Vegas much as Presley did in his day.

The Montreal-based company is partnered in its latest enterprise with CKX Inc., a mega-manager-owner of entertainment-related content and intellectual properties, and its subsidiary Elvis Presley Enterprises, the corporate entity created by Presley's trust to manage its assets.

Return of the king

Among those attending tonight's VIP performance will be the best-known guardian of that trust, the king's ex-wife Priscilla Presley. Speaking by phone, Priscilla Presley acknowledged she was feeling a bit, uh, all shook up about the opening, albeit in a positive way.

"I feel like it's the first time that Elvis went on stage," she said. "It's just nerve-racking."

In that regard, Presley could be channeling her ex, who when he performed in Las Vegas grew antsier by the minute as an opening-night audience that included Pat Boone, Cary Grant and Fats Domino filed into the Showroom Internationale. "He didn't want to know who was out there in the crowd," Priscilla Presley said.

Yet his show was an immediate success, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the gambling mecca. According to Ste-Croix, at one point during Presley's appearances, one out of every two Las Vegas tourists was coming to town specifically to attend his concerts.

"I think he put Vegas on the map in a way that it hadn't been," Priscilla Presley said. Las Vegas returned the favor, she added, by giving her ex-husband a way to relaunch his career as a live performer after a 10-year absence from big stages.

"It brought him back to the forefront and it brought him back to what he loved most. It brought him back in contact with the audience and with his fans," she said.

Given its show's unabashedly celebratory spirit, it's not surprising that Cirque isn't touching those aspects of Elvis' life that have kept conspiracy theorists, tabloid journalists, assistant professors of American studies and schadenfreude mongers in clover for 32 years.

Priscilla Presley said that no preconditions or restrictions were set on what could, or could not, be included in "Viva Elvis." But she clearly seems pleased with Cirque's artistic focus, and suggests that a show about Elvis is better off without scholarly footnotes.

"I think he's been over-analyzed," she said. "I think if he ever heard the stuff, he'd be shaking in his boots. It was all about entertaining, it was all about rapport with your audience and giving them their money's worth."

Her hope, she said, is that "Viva Elvis" could do for Las Vegas today what Elvis' appearances did in a previous era beset by economic hard times.

"I'm hoping this'll renew Vegas again and get people back to work," Priscilla Presley said, adding that in the '70s everyone from waiters to blackjack dealers and limousine drivers felt the impact of the king's return to his court.

"Everybody was happy when Elvis Presley came to town."


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