We have a brand-new great-grandson, whose middle name is “Memphis.” He’s named in honor of his grandmother, one of our very best friends. Andi, a London Brit who met and married a Peace Core volunteer Randy Melquist, who thrown out of Libya with all the other Americans when Gaddafi came into power. The family came to the US, settled in Tacoma and Andi was Peg’s best friend for 43 years. Andi loved, loved, loved Elvis. She had every record and album that she could lay her hands on. She had a poster. She was given an Elvis clock that had shifting legs as it ticked; the shifting legs could be turned off, that’s how Randy liked it. Randy was not fond of Elvis. He liked the European classics: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc. She waited until he was out of the house, gone to work or mowing the grass to play “her” music.
Peg has a particular memory about Elvis, too. She was going into 9th grade at St. Leo’s All Girls High School. Her older sister Pat was going into 10th. Their cousin Betty from Idaho was being pursued by a man/boy in her home town that was bewitched by her blond hair and blue eyes. He made her and her parents uncomfortable so she was sent to graduate from high school at St. Leo’s with the Pat and Peg. Betty was also a real Elvis fan. She had a record player and records that she brought with her; she was sophisticated; she had lots of clothes that she bought with the money she earned working for her parents who owned a movie theater. She and her siblings worked every night during the summer and on the weekends during the rest of the year. She knew all the latest movies and could have Coke and candy at will. Pat and Peg were both fascinated.
At St. Leo’s, the custom was to pair a freshman with a senior for guidance and stability; Betty was Peg’s Big Sister. They went to a home near St. Rita’s, an Italian Church on Hilltop close to the reservoir. They played games, danced and were silly for the overnight event. It was fun and Pat and Peg finally could hear Elvis and other stars of the times on Betty’s record player.
Peg and Pat went to the Pantages (she doesn’t remember what it was called then) to see “Love Me Tender.” They loved the music and the sappy movie, but Frankie Avalon was Peg’s favorite.
The first record album I ever bought was a collection of Elvis’s gold records (Vol. I). In 1956 I walked from Maple Avenue to the Lakewood Colonial Theatre to see his first movie, “Love Me Tender.”
Here’s the official trailer of “Love Me Tender” from IMDB – imdb.com/video/vi2400126745
Forty-four years after the death of Elvis Presley he may not be as popular with the Millennials as he is to the older generations, but musicals like “All Shook Up” point out that his style, delivery, voice, and movements are still iconic and connect with almost all who like music and dance.
My sister Deedee is also an Elvis fan. She goes to the Muckleshoot Casino to hear and dance to the Elvis impersonators, especially Danny Vernon. She even inculcated her grandson Jake with her musical preference.
Here is a short clip of the musical “All Shook Up”
“The music of Elvis comes alive in All Shook Up. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, All Shook Up follows a small Midwestern town that is thrown into a frenzy with the arrival of Chad, a good-looking, motorcycle-riding roustabout, who rides from town to town with a guitar on his back, blue suede shoes on his feet, and a song in his heart. Repressed by their conservative mayor, the town begins to come alive once more under Chad’s influence. Lovers meet, woo, pursue, and more, all in one zany night that will change the town forever. All Shook Up is a rocking, heartwarming tale about following dreams, opening up to love, and the power of music.” – stageagent.com
COVID closed the gathering of groups, which could have been the death knell of theatre. My wife and I were going to take my sister Deedee to see the Elvis inspired musical for her birthday. Tacoma Musical Theatre closed their doors and darkened our lives. But now, in 2021 TMP is kicking off their musical season with “All Shook Up.” We will celebrate my sister’s January birthday in September. The musical will run from September 17th to October 10th. All seating is reserved.
On Sunday (September 12 at 7:00 pm), there will be a FREE behind-the-scenes introduction of “All Shook Up.” You can join the cast and crew for an exciting information session featuring discussion, songs, dances, and interviews led by TMP’s Managing Artistic Director, Jon Douglas Rake.
Also, to get everyone in the singing and musical mood, TMP is staging a two-night (August 14th & 15th) parking lot concert “The ABBA Sing-Along.” Tickets are $25 per person and feature the ABBA tribute band The ABBAgraphs. The performances will take place in the parking lot behind the theatre. Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets.
In addition, there will be “A Festival of 10 Minute Musicals.” There are eight ten-minute musicals, each directed by local theatrical veterans like Micheal O’Hara and Nick Fitzgerald.
TMP is doing what it can to present live theatre, music and fun. Please, call 253-565-6867 or visit them on line – tmp.org