LOVE ME TENDER
The Bristol Hippodrome
MONDAY 15TH – SATURDAY 20TH JUNE 2015
It would appear that I’ve committed another parenting fail, having completely neglected to introduce my children to the music of “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. As we’re driving to The Bristol Hippodrome on Monday night, I enthusiastically perform snippets from one hit after another, while the boys look on blankly.
“You must know this one?”
“Never heard of it!”, they declare after my splendid two-line renditions of “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock” and “A Little Less Conversation” so it looks like I’m going to have to leave their Elvis initiation in the hands of the cast of “Love Me Tender”.
From the producers of Hairspray, Jersey Boys and West Side Story “LOVE ME TENDER” is a new feel-good musical inspired by & featuring the music of Elvis Presley. A guitar-playing, hip-swivelling stranger rides his motorbike into “A small you never heard of it town somewhere in the mid west” of 1950s America. Is he The Devil in Disguise or a Hound Dog in his Blue Suede Shoes? The townsfolk are about to be All Shook Up and could be headed for Heartbreak Hotel, but for Natalie, the love-struck, tomboy mechanic, it really is Now or Never. Oh and if you think those puns are bad, read on!
Packed with 25 songs by The King himself, “LOVE ME TENDER” is a funny and moving tale of hope, second chances and the healing qualities of Rock ‘n’ Roll. So strong is the effect of the dangerous stranger that a series of amusing love triangles, (with the added complications of taboo interracial dating and gender-confused relationships), leave the audience unsure of who might end up with whom.
Award-winning singer and platinum selling artist MICA PARIS stars as ‘Sylvia’ in the UK and Ireland tour. Mica is one of the UK’s most respected female singers with a career of Top 10 hit singles and albums worldwide. Her opening of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is beautiful and sends a shiver through me. She’s partnered with the multi-talented Shaun Williamson, who’s singing voice is unexpectedly good (particularly as I never cease to think of him as Barry from Eastenders.)
I also particularly enjoy Aretha Ayeh’s singing voice (Lorraine).
As the show progresses I find it more and more amusing. For those with even the most basic knowledge of fifties music (clearly not my boys then) there are lots of well delivered in-jokes.
“You’re wearing blue suede shoes.”
“Yes, please don’t step on them!”
I know that doesn’t sound funny on paper, but each slightly corny joke provokes a roar of laughter and paves the way for the next.
I love the fact that our hero, Chad, is vulnerable and flawed. When his charm is in question because Miss Sandra does not immediately fall at his feet, his tactless side-kick tells it as it is:-
“Oh boy, she really finds you repulsive”
I enjoy the musical declaration that another of Cupid’s arrows has found its target, as the chords of “One Night (with you)” strike up – again!
But I think the humour which appeals to me most is the increasingly absurd use of props. At first I think a motorbike represented just by a set of handle bars is slightly naff, but this turns out to be the tip of the iceberg and we’re laughing out loud by the time we see Lorraine furiously pedalling a static exercise bike in her quest to catch up with her love interest Dean as he chugs away on what passes for a train. Oh and don’t get me started on the utterly unpredictable, poorly co-ordinated hand held,”man-ual” saloon doors!
I’m shocked to discover how little of the music my boys recognise and Love Me Tender has helped me realise I’d like to rectify this. Having my Mother with us tonight reminds me of the huge impact the advent of this genre of music had both on youngsters like her in the fifties and on subsequent generations.
In a lighthearted way “Love Me Tender” offers the children an insight into that recent time and place when mixed race relationships were virtually inconceivable. A brief appearance by a mixed race Ku Klux Klan during a most unusual rendition of “An American Trilogy” offers fuel for more history lessons on the way home!
There’s nothing in this show I wouldn’t be happy for any of my boys to watch, even the six year old.
Although the show is packed with his songs, Love Me Tender’s not as ‘Elvissy’ as I thought it would be. Chad doesn’t particularly sound like Elvis (only his drainpipes and leather jacket give a nod to his style) nor is it the story of Elvis. It is, however, a lighthearted, really good fun show where blue suede shoes appear to be the answer to every cool related question!
LOVE ME TENDER
Monday 15th – Saturday 20th June
Evenings at 7.30 pm
Matinees on Wed & Sat 2.30 pm
Tickets: £14.90 – £50.90
Concessions available on certain performances
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DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.