Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 | 9:51 a.m.
De-emphasizing the story of Elvis Presley in the Cirque du Soleil production “Viva Elvis” at Aria is fine with one of the people who knew him best.
“I am excited that Cirque Du Soleil has decided to modify ‘Viva Elvis” is how Priscilla Presley put it last week. “It will make a good show an even more exciting show.”
Priscilla supplied her opinion through spokeswoman and Rogers & Cowan PR executive Samantha Mast.
Last week, the production announced that it was making significant changes in the show. The news release read, in part, that the company would present “less of a biographical representation of Elvis and more of an acrobatic Cirque du Soleil spectacular production.”
Noting its decision to close its production show “Zed” in Tokyo (citing the natural disasters that have hit Japan as the reason), Cirque is updating “Viva Elvis” with more traditional acrobatic acts that were featured in that show. (Read my colleague Robin Leach’s column about the “Viva Elvis” changes here).
If anything can be taken from Presley’s comment, it’s that the changes to the show are in the hands of Cirque. As a representative of Elvis Presley Enterprises, which has partnered with Cirque to produce “Viva Elvis,” Presley has long been a proponent of the largely biographical approach to the production. In January, on the event of her being honored as Woman of the Year by Nevada Ballet Theatre, Presley said changes to the show were being discussed, but it was apparent those talks were centered on bringing more of Elvis' life story to the show, not less.
"We’re trying to get more Elvis, even though it’s a Cirque celebration of his life, some of the song choices and being tighter, a couple of the acts will be a little bit different," she said at the time. "It’s the same show, but oh my God, it’s got so much life and energy, and Elvis is more in it, and everyone agrees that’s what it needed.
"It’s about Elvis, we all know all of his songs, and we can hear the songs, but we need to know why everyone was so enthralled by him and captivated by him. And that’s all happening, and that’s good." Presley said she specifically preferred more gospel songs in the performance, as Elvis loved gospel music.
In its earliest stages, the show has told the story of Elvis through variations of his classic songs and a narrative by a Col. Tom Parker-styled character. To enact the changes, the show will shut down for an extended period beginning in January, with the revised version expected to roll out by the spring.