Home » London Theatre Reviews » The Elvis Years at the Dominion Theatre | Review

The Elvis Years at the Dominion Theatre | Review

Nearly half a century after the death of Elvis Presley and with the advent, any day now, of Elvis Evolution – a “recreation” using AI and holograph technology – are we at last nearing the end of the road for Elvis impersonators? Come what may, Mario Kombuo – one of, if not, the leading Elvis impersonator – shows no signs of hanging up his quiff just yet. He has been riding the impersonation train for more than 20 years including touring with The Elvis Years on and off since 2016 and, starring as Presley in the acclaimed musical Jailhouse Rock that played at the Piccadilly Theatre for more than a year.

The Elvis YearsAside from a brief stopover in Prestwick and a day of sightseeing in London with Tommy Steele, the real Elvis never visited the UK, and few in the audience at London’s Dominion Theatre can have seen him live. So, as most people’s memories come almost exclusively from his many film and television appearances, is it so strange to imagine that fans might continue to prefer a flesh-and-blood Elvis? Someone – rather than something – they can call their own? Isn’t it more fun to just pretend, close your eyes, only believe and it’s almost as if the King never left the building…

Mario Kombuo certainly hopes so. Channelling Presley’s voice and gentle sense of humour, he fulfills every dream of the Presley fan with song after song, most of the well-known ones and a few that will delight aficionados. However, while his voice is as good as it ever was, Kombuo is just a little bit too heavy to carry the impersonation much further back in time before the ’68 Comeback Special and Elvis’s Vegas residency. This makes the first half of this crowd-pleasingly long show a little hard to swallow. When Presley began his career in the 1950s, the “Louisiana Hayride” star was considered by the American press to combine country music with bop. Elvis was catnip to rebellious teens. Considerably older than Elvis in his Sun and GI days, Kombou doesn’t manage to convey the vitality and danger that the young Elvis brought to the music world. But does that matter?

Not a jot. It’s all part of the illusion. You simply can’t help falling in love with this feel-good party of a show right through to the happy ending as “Elvis” walks through the audience dispensing kisses and scarves – with “genuine sweat”. However, beyond Kombuou’s performance, The Elvis Years is a little less polished with feeble choreography and, aside from an excellent Steve Gray on lead guitar, an uninspiring backing band. And given the history of the man and the music he brought to white audiences, it is jarring to see no performers of colour on stage.

Nonetheless, this is solidly performed, on-the-button entertainment – Elvis lives and… he’s on tour.

3 Star Review

 

Almost 20 years after smash-hit West End musical Jailhouse Rock, the show’s star Mario Kombou and musical director David Mackay have combined forces for new show The Elvis Years, encompassing the entire creative life of Elvis Presley.

This stunning production takes you on a fantastic journey through all the years the King ruled the airwaves. With a full cast of West End talent, a spectacular set, breathtaking lights and video, enjoy over 50 golden greats charting the rise of the boy from Tupelo – from the early hits That’s Alright Mama, Don’t Be Cruel and I Got Stung all the way through to the iconic Las Vegas concerts with In The Ghetto, The Wonder Of You and Suspicious Minds.

The Elvis Years
18 Feb and 30 Jun 2024
Dominion Theatre

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