Home Lifestyle RAMBLINGS: A year of Elvis

RAMBLINGS: A year of Elvis

Thoroughly enjoyed a trip with the Merry Makers of Rockingham Methodist Church this past week to see the musical “All Shook Up” at the Temple Theatre in Sanford.

The storyline of the musical involves an Elvis-like roustabout character entering a small town with conservative values and “shaking up” the townspeople with his music and viewpoints.

Set in the ’50s, the musical touched upon topics not addressed much at all in that era such as interracial dating and marriage and gender roles in society. Elvis songs and accompanying dance numbers were used to move along the storyline in a most entertaining way.

This musical was the finale of the Temple Theatre season and I think it was a good choice … a full house for the matinee performance. Many people arrived as I in senior citizen vans and buses.

I consider myself fortunate to live as close to this theatre as I do. The productions I have seen at this theatre are equal or at least close to equal to any production I have seen on Broadway. Young, professional actors and semi-retired actors from this state and beyond are always included in Temple productions. Costumes and sets also are always first class.

With the debut of the very well received Elvis movie last year, I think this generation has gained an appreciation of an entertainment icon from my childhood. I well remember seeing Elvis first on the Ed Sullivan show when I was a young kid.

Back in those days, everybody watched that show every Sunday. One of the first entertainers to be known the world over by his first name, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th century popular culture. His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma and good humor endeared him to millions as did the humility, kindness, and generosity he demonstrated throughout his life.

Austin Butler won a Golden Globe best actor award this year for his portrayal of Elvis but failed to win an Academy Award for his performance.

In an interview of Butler on a news show, he shared his story of how he came to be cast in the movie without having the credentials and fame of many of his young acting peers.

Advertisements

He told the interviewer that he had an especially close relationship with his grandmother as a child who was a huge Elvis fan. During visits with her, she had him listening to Elvis music and seeing Elvis movies. To please her, he learned to sing Elvis songs to her delight.

Butler also told her how he once impressed a former girlfriend by singing an Elvis song to her. She even told him he would be perfect in an Elvis movie.

A couple of years later, he said, while acting in a play on Broadway with Denzel Washington, Washington recommended him to an Australian movie producer and friend who was having difficulty finding his Elvis in the biopic he was putting together. Butler was given an audition and as they say, the rest is history.

So much more info has come out since the debut of the Elvis movie. Perhaps one of the more interesting stories is that Elvis’s mother shared with him that one of his great-grandmothers was Jewish but cautioned him not to mention this to people because of the anti-Semitism existing at this time.

Coming from Tupelo, Mississippi, he did not come into contact with many Jewish people, but when he became more involved in show business, he met more Jewish people who became good friends and he became proud of his Jewish heritage and wore a Star of David necklace the rest of his life.

The program for “All Shook Up” at the Temple included upcoming productions for the 2003-2004 season: “Annie,” “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” “A Christmas Story,” “Til Beth Do Us Part,” “The Musical of Musicals,” and “Million Dollar Quartet.”

See you at the theatre!

Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.