The Strip’s longest-running production presents an all-new salute to the timeless entertainer…
For fans worldwide, 2022 was the unofficial “Year of Elvis”. Most of the credit for that accolade goes to film director Baz Luhrmann, whose blockbuster biopic ELVIS generated over a quarter billion dollars in ticket sales. Oddly enough, the well-reviewed ALL SHOOK UP (TripAdvisor places it #12 out of 252 productions) at Alexis Park Resort has been the only regularly performing Elvis tribute in Vegas. That is, until now. Elvis returns to the Strip with BACK IN THE BUILDING by LEGENDS IN CONCERT at Tropicana Resort.
LEGENDARY DIVAS featured Cher, Adele, Celine Dion, and Lady Gaga
LEGENDS IN CONCERT experienced a stellar run this summer with LEGENDARY DIVAS, a salute to powerful women in the music industry. Hosted by acclaimed female impersonator Frank Marino, LEGENDARY DIVAS had its final performance on October 31st. Just one week later, LEGENDS rolled out its next iteration, cleverly named BACK IN THE BUILDING.
Rarely do new shows open during what is typically the off-season. Wynn is learning the hard way with AWAKENING, a mega-production that is experiencing anemic sales right out of the gate. The same goes for BAT OUT OF HELL facing rumors of poor attendance and some predicting closure by the end of the year.
LEGENDS has taken a decidedly frugal approach to its latest edition. Slated to run through December 30, BACK IN THE BUILDING is more scaled-down than their usual extravaganzas. A small live band is augmented with audio and video tracks, and the supporting cast of four singers/dancers is a departure from their usually crowded stage.
More than anything else, LEGENDS IN CONCERT has always built its productions around outstanding tribute artists, BACK IN THE BUILDING may be a little less epic this time around, but they’ve upped the ante for its titular entertainer. No less than THREE Elvis impersonators (Elvi?) are featured in the 65-minute showcase.
Native Texan Victor Trevino opens BACK IN THE BUILDING with early hits like “Shake Rattle N Roll”, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, and “Teddy Bear”. Filled with youthful exuberance and swoon-worthy good looks, Trevino is definitely one to watch. His segment is an intimate medley that segues into a colorful salute to Presley’s film career (below).
Patrick Dunn takes over the headliner chores for this colorful “movies” sequence. A multi-award winner, Dunn was selected last year as the “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist World Champion”. A lengthy medley of chart-toppers from VIVA LAS VEGAS and other flicks is enhanced by the appearance of Carol Maccri as a vivacious “Ann-Margret”.
NBC network’s iconic 1968 “Comeback Special” was watched by millions of viewers (this writer included) during its initial broadcast. The concert event represented a turning point in Presley’s career and became a central focus of Luhrmann’s film. Victor Trevino returns in this portion to perform “Trouble”, “Jailhouse Rock”, and “One Night With You”, along with requests from the audience.
Lifelong Elvis fan Bill Cherry steps into the spotlight for “Elvis of the 70’s”. Perhaps the most Vegas-y part of the show, Cherry recreates the excitement of Presley’s record-setting run at Las Vegas Hilton (now known as Westgate). Cherry’s impersonation, which he’s been doing since 1989, is absolutely authentic. It has earned him opportunities to perform with Presley’s own bandmates and members of The Jordanaires and The Sweet Inspirations.
Hits from the 70’s medley include “C.C. Rider”, “Burning Love”, and of course, “Suspicious Minds”. Bill is then joined by Trevino and Dunn for a raucous finale featuring the entire cast. The curtain falls on the legendary voice of Al Dvorin, Presley’s original announcer, who popularized the phrase “Elvis has left the building”.
As always, LEGENDS IN CONCERT employs top-notch dancers, singers, costume designers, and musicians. BACK IN THE BUILDING is no exception. LEGENDS Vice President Gina Capecci Adams informed me that all three of their Elvis tribute artists are winners of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest, which is held at Graceland.
Band members include drummer Ryan Krieger, keyboardist Jimmy Powers, Howard Stroman, and Roberto Vazquez. A rotating roster of singers/dancers includes Gianna Adams, Deena Cary, Adria Lawrence, Nellie Norris, Lieu Grisby, Joshua Smith, and Tony Torres.
One gripe I have about BACK IN THE BUILDING is its strict commitment to linear storytelling. It begins with a trio of performers standing in front of a drab curtain, which had me wondering if the entire production would be this way. Such an approach might have worked if it quickly transformed into a large-scale musical number, but not for five entire songs.
As it stands, BACK IN THE BUILDING is still a solid piece of entertainment and quite worthy of the admission price. It’s also a noteworthy entry in the decades-long LEGENDS IN CONCERT songbook. See it while you can.
BACK IN THE BUILDING performs Wednesday through Monday at 7;30pm. It’s scheduled to run through December 30th. Tickets start at $71 (plus taxes/fees) and are available here. Use code LIC80 to reserve two seats for the special price of $80.00 (offer duration unknown at time of publication).