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Sunday 6 August 2023

Elvis: A Musical Revolution - OPENING NIGHT SYDNEY

Elvis: A Musical Revolution.

This new bio-musical - authorised by Elvis Presley Enterprises - has just opened in Australia at Sydney's beautiful State Theatre - and it'll turn your expectations of a musical on its head.

Get set to having your preconceptions of a musical being blown away by the genius of both this David Venn Enterprises production, the story written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti, and the supreme talent of acting and theatrical great, Australian born Rob Mallet as Elvis.

If you know your Elvis Presley history, you’ll be across the timeline of this musical icon!

From his childhood roots in Tupelo, Mississippi, where Gladys Presley gave birth to twin sons.

The first, Jessie Garon, is born stillborn. The second, Elvis Aaron, is born alive and healthy. Elvis would be their only child, and the apple of his mother's eye, as is well documented and depicted beautifully in this musical. Young Elvis - played during its season by Oliver Bosward, Rhys James Hankey, Finn Walsham, and Tommy Kent - is such a beautifully tender role.

Now, get set for a little Elvis education in the most entertaining way!

Let’s talk about @robmallett as Elvis: he’s just INSANELY good. And his actor CV is an exceptional encyclopaedic prelude to his role of a lifetime as The King.

From his bio:

Tasmanian born and bred, Rob was introduced to the stage during his formative years in Irish dancing. 

Rob graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 2012 with a BA in Music Theatre. During his last year at WAAPA Rob appeared in a docudrama for the BBC, Desert Rats, and a telemovie for ABC 1, The Accidental Soldier. 

Immediately after graduating, Rob appeared in a guest role on House Husbands for the Nine Network, before joining the national tour of Hot Shoe Shuffle, directed by David Atkins, in the role of Buck. 

In 2013 Rob also performed in A Cole Porter Celebration for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs as a lead vocalist and during that same year was named a top 6 finalist in the Rob Guest Endowment. Following that, Rob featured in a guest role on Winners & Losers for the Seven Network. 

Rob was cast in the Australian tour of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed new production of Les Misérables covering the role of Marius. 2016 saw him join the company of Singin' in the Rain which continued into 2017 for the Tokyo production. Also in 2017, Rob was thrilled to finally be returning home to Tasmania to appear in Blue Cow’s The Events, and was cast as the role of Brad Majors in the Australian tour of Richard O’Briens The Rocky Horror Show. He followed these with an international tour of Disney’s Aladdin as Kassim, and most recently supported Gerry Connolly in The Rise and Disguise of Elizabeth R at the Hayes Theatre.

And now... meet Rob as Elvis.

His dulcet tones as The King are exceptional, and his familiar Elvis twang in his spoken parts are eerily good... he has that deep Mississippi Elvis accent down pat.

This is where the musical differs from what you may expect. It features 40 of Elvis's songs, but they're not rolled out in standard fashion for a musical, one after the other, with not much time to enjoy and engage with the spoken story in between.

No, this is a whole other style of musical.

The emphasis on this production is very much - as the title suggests - remembering Elvis and his  vast and enduring contribution to our musical history.

With clever date stamps and historical markers on stage and its rolling screen, you're taken on a journey of Elvis's life, with flashbacks to his childhood as pivotal moments.

Rob as Elvis in his dramatic scenes - when his band are trying to perform to Elvis's new standards, for example - are engaging and exceptional. It reminds us of the enormous amount of pressure Elvis was under during the peak of his career.

While that other homage to Elvis - the movie by Baz Luhrmann - centres on Colonel Tom Parker and his unsavoury ways of managing his client - this musical does indeed show Parker's controlling side, but does it in a more palatable way, still steeped in history and not glossing over the confines he had placed on his star.

My favourite parts of the whole musical was seeing the BTS of the rolling out of many of Elvis famed movies, in a way that was humorous and super entertaining... Kirby Burgess, who plays Ann-Margret, nails it in her scenes with Elvis on set on that famous dance scene in 'Viva Las Vegas'.

This series of scenes took me right back to Saturday afternoons at home in the 1970s, watching Elvis movies with the family. So much nostalgia, and makes me want to watch all Elvis films all over again.

The cast also features Noni McCallum as Gladys Presley, Ian Stenlake as Colonel Parker, and Annie Chiswell as Priscilla Presley.

The press blurb on Elvis: A Musical Revolution:


The Icon. The King. The story of a man who gave the world a musical revolution. 

Featuring over 40 hit songs, Elvis: A Musical Revolution celebrates the extraordinary life of award winning, cultural icon, Elvis Presley. From his childhood in Mississippi, to his triumphant ‘68 Comeback Special, and ascent to become ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, this brand-new high-energy production explores the pivotal moments in Elvis’s life and music career through the perspectives of those who knew him best. 

Songs include Jailhouse Rock, Hound Dog, That’s All Right, All Shook Up, Suspicious Minds, Heartbreak Hotel, Burning Love, Blue Suede Shoes, Good Rockin’Tonight, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Earth Angel, Don’t Be Cruel, Are You Lonesome, Blue Moon of Kentucky, See See Rider, A Little Less Conversation and more. 

With an all-star Australian cast, dazzling choreography, and hit after hit, you simply can’t help falling in love! 

All shook up? Get tickets now!


Take a Presley aficionado with you - or do as I did and take a teen - and you’ll be completely immersed in the history of Elvis, and it’ll also hit you right in the feels…

The high energy show is at times emotional, and THAT is the enduring legacy of a superstar who nailed the fame and endurance brief decades before social media was ever a thing… he needed no help from ‘likes’ and fake adulation. Instead, an incredible talent who lives on in so many ways, decades after his passing.

Go see it!

Ticket link HERE.

Or see the State Theatre for more info.

AND: the Sydney season will be followed by a run at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, starting from October 6, 2023.

Follow Elvis: A Musical Revolution on Instagram HERE and on Facebook HERE.

See my opening night coverage via @josiesjuicejournalist HERE.