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September 8, 2017     Post-Gazette
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September 8, 2017

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POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 PAGE 5 A Frank De Pasquale Venture There's Good Rockin' in Ogunquit HEARTBREAK HOTEL The early years of Elvis Presley are too often overlooked. Most Presley impersonators portray the Elvis of the Vegas stage, wearing capes and sequined jump suits. At this later point in his life, the drug use was really beginning to show, and the rock icon was becoming a tragic figure. The hard living would result in his untimely death at the age of 42. It is unfortunate this is the Elvis who is most often portrayed. While the Las Vegas Elvis fits into the much too often tragic life of a great talent taken down by his own success, the more interesting story lies in his early years. This is where Floyd Mutyux, the creator of the Tony Award-winning Million Dollar Quartet, which played to sold out crowds at the Ogunquit Playhouse the past two seasons, has stepped in to tell the truly fascinating story of Presley's early life. Heartbreak Hotel is a prequel to Million Dollar Quartet and focuses on the Sun Records years of the young Lruck driver who would skyrocket to fame overnight. Heartbreak Hotel is now play- ing at the Ogunqult Playhouse where it had its world premiere on August 30% It is an interest- ing production to watch, as it is stiU a work in progress. The music is positively outstanding, with all of the actors playing their own instruments. Eddie Clendening, who origi- nated the role of Presley in the Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet, is not an Elvis impersonator. He brings much more to the stage than just an imitation of the rock icon. Clendening manages to capture Ogunquit Playhouse through September 30 the persona of the young E1vis. Most impressively, he is able to rock out with the raw energy of Presley while always retaining that shyness that made him so charming. While ripping out on songs such as Good Rockin' Tonight with hips swiveling and lip twitching, we see that young boy who still seems just a bit uncomfortable in the spotlight even while he is thriving in it. Clendening really pulls this off and it is no easy task to do. This is as close as you will come to experiencing the young Elvis, a paradoxical figure who was shy and yet craved attention. The story is not just about Elvis but also about the era. It was an amazing and trans- formational time in music and there are cameos from many of the other great performers of the time. These include Wanda Jackson (Brenna Bloom) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe played by Terita Redd, who deserves an "AmenF for her amazing rock/ gospel singing. Geno Henderson nearly steals the show playing numerous greats, including Chuck Berry and Nat King Cole. Mr. Hender- www.depasc (Photos by C~r!J Ng) Matt6o Gallo Appraisals Sales & Rentals Real Estate 376 North Street * Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 * Fax (617) 523-3530 son moves seamlessly through his parts. The interplay between Colonel Tom Parker (Jerry Kemion)and Sam Phillips (Matt McKenzie) creates a tension, with Parker seeing Presley as a product and Phillips recognizing him as a great artist. It leaves us wondering just what would have happened if Presley had decided to remain with Phillips. Yes, this play is a work in progress. The musical num- bers, the sets, the lighting, are all outstanding. I don't think this time of Elvis Presley's life has ever been captured so well. Where this production is weak is in the book. The early life of this seemingly simple southern boy is a very complex story. It is a huge challenge to try to capture even a very condensed version of all that went on in those early years while still focusing on the music. What I saw on the stage in Ogunquit is a great start to what can be a wonderful and important story. It will be interesting to see how it all develops. There are more than a couple of reasons to see Heartbreak Hotel. First, watching Eddie Clendening as the young Elvis is a true experience. He really gets it. Second, while this is a work that is still being developed, it is fascinating to be a part of the process as I am sure the writer and director are taking the pulse of the audiences. It might not be a bad idea for them to have suggestion boxes placed at the exits. I know I would have contributed a few. Heartbreak Hotel takes us back to one of the most amazing eras in the history of American music. It is .just astonishing when you realize how fast things changed. It was an exciting time that lives on in music through this day. Itls. rather ironic that Colonel Parker chose to take Elvis to Hollywood and Vegas, as he didn't believe Rock'n~oU was going to last. Sam Phillips knew better. For more info, please visit www. DIAMONDS FIOLF_X ESTATE JEWELRY Bought & Sold Jewelers Exch. Bldg. Jim (617) 263-7766 Mar6 Bricco Seafood, Crudo & Oyster Bar Boutique Italian Cuisine 000 000 Mare Piace 24} Hanover SL - 617.248,6800 223 Honorer St, * 617,72.3.MARE Trattoda II Panino Quatlro Boston's |St Grille, Rosticceria & Pizzeria Original Trattoda OOO OOO 266 Honorer St. ', 617.720.0444 I 1 Parmenlet SI. - 617.720.1336 Sfizi Bricco Panetteria Mediterranean Tapas Bar Homemade Coming Soon. Artisan Breads 000 000 135 Richmond St. Bricco Place 241 Hanover SL 617.248,9859 Brlcco Salumeria Gelateria & Cannoli & Pasta shoppe Factory Voted Best Sandwiches o o o Homemade Gelato & Cannolis Bricco Place o 0 0 241 Har~ovet St, 6I 7.248.9629 272 Honorer St, - 64 Cross SL 4nex! to Bricco Panetteria) 617,720A243 Children's Choir Is your child a student in grades 3, 4 or 5 in any North End school? We are enter- ing our third year with our young choir at St. Stephen's. SCHEDULED TRYOUTS FOR NEW STUDENTS will take place at St. Stephen's on Thursday, September 14th, at 3:45 pm. Returning students should also attend. Communications will go out to all our neighborhood schools, including NEMPAC. If interested in participating, FIRST contact Maria Ciampa at 786-351-0603. If you prefer to make contact via email, write to mmciampa~aomcast, net. This project brings together a maximum of 12 students from public or private schools, who will join us in practice sessions on Thursday afternoons. The children are expected to perform every first and third Sundays at the celebration of the 11:00 am mass. Occasionally we are asked to participate in other special events as invitations come our way. Please join our music staff and our returning students. Blessed Mother of Sorrow Mass The Blessed Mother of Sorrow Mass will be celebrated this year on September 17th at 11:00 am at the Madonna Queen of the Uni- verse Shrine (Don Orione Fathers) located at 150 Orient Avenue, East Boston. Please come and honor the Blessed Mother on this special day. Help us continue this beautifld tradition, which began in 1932 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Boston. You fans of Ray's can brighten his special day (September 11~) with some cards -- and make them funny ones! You know Ray loves to laugh and make us laugh. You may send cards to: Ray Barron c/o Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital 200 Springs Road, Bedford, MA 01730