The King of Rock and Roll - or a very convincing impersonator - is coming to Surrey.
Blue Suede Shoes, a part-play partperformance chronicling Elvis' career, runs at the Surrey Arts Centre starting today and running until Sunday.
It stars world-class Elvis tribute artist Roy LeBlanc and the production's co-creator, Chris McHarge, as Col. Tom Parker, the man who managed Elvis' career on a handshake.
"It's the story of Elvis, but it's told through the eyes of his manager," said LeBlanc, who has performed as Elvis for almost 16 years.
"He was a bit of a unique personality himself. He came from a carny background."
The production adds elements of comedy and drama to illustrate the sometimes strained relationship between the King and his manager.
"There's happy moments and tense moments and arguments - all the things that make for good theatre," said LeBlanc. "There's parts in the play where the actual crowd gets angry enough at the Colonel to be screaming and yelling at him."
Currently in its fourth season, the show has been booked solid in Ontario, making this string of performances the first time Blue Suede Shoes has been in B.C.
It was written by McHarge and Colin Stewart for LeBlanc, who was named the World's Finest Elvis Impersonator at the 2003 Annual Elvis Extravaganza in Las Vegas.
Originally from Ontario, LeBlanc placed first in the non-professional division of the Collingwood Elvis Festival in 1999, the world's largest Elvis contest. But his start as the King happened further west.
"I actually lived in Surrey for a year and half," he said. "That's actually where my career started."
He recalled performing an Elvis song at a karaoke bar and was approached afterward by a couple who asked him to play at their wedding.
He obliged, and after a few more weddings and local shows, he took his act back east and eventually around the world.
"If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would be Elvis full-time, I would definitely say 'no,'" he said.
The two-hour show features 46 songs and 13 costume changes, running through selections of Elvis' back catalogue while detailing his life from his discovery through to his Vegas shows.
"The first act basically starts in Sun Studios and goes through Elvis' rise with number-one hits in the early '50s," said LeBlanc.
"There's lots of music for the Elvis fans and they'll know them all."
Hits like 1956's "Heartbreak Hotel", 1969's "Suspicious Minds" and 1972's "Burning Love" will fill the Surrey Arts Centre, but LeBlanc will also perform B-sides and lesserknown Elvis singles.
He even delves into Elvis' gospel songs and a medley of numbers from films like Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas.
The story focuses less on Elvis' personal life and more on his career, his business decisions and their consequences.
"We're not going through all the girlfriends he had," he said. "That's something that would take too long to even stage."
There are three 7: 30 p.m. performances today until Saturday and two 3 p.m. performances on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets range from $30 to $40 and are available at the Surrey Arts Club box office, at 604-501-5566 or at tickets.surrey.ca.
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