Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Elvis is Water (Fringe)

Who is the King of Rock?
by Lisa McKeown

This mini musical is a recounting of the early life of Elvis – songs interspersed with narrative, both describing and performing Elvis’s foray into the music world. The audience was peppered with long-time Elvis fans, but the story gave context to the songs for those of us less familiar with this aspect of rock history, adding deeper meaning and context to both familiar and unfamiliar songs. 

The story is not just about Elvis though, but about what the King of Rock stands for. “Elvis is about doing what you want to do,” says John Burns, shortly before indulging in a quick sampling of his opera skills. On a personal note, we find out that music didn’t come as easily to Burns as it did to the King, but Elvis inspired him to keep at it. 

The band – Joe Hawkins on the electric git-fiddle, Denis Drouin on the upright bass, and Deborah Thompson on the keyboard and drum – also deserve credit for their obvious musical skills, and in Hawkins’ case, quick thinking when during the performance one of Burns’ guitar strings snapped and Hawkins retrieved another guitar on the fly. 

At times the tone of the piece erred on the side of hokey, though perhaps that’s a generational gap issue. Nevertheless the love of music, especially rock and roll, was genuine. Definitely a fun piece!  

Elvis is Water is at the Toronto Fringe

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