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July 4, 2017 > Elvis escapades amuse at Chanticleers

Elvis escapades amuse at Chanticleers

By Julie Grabowski

The Colonel is having what may well be the worst Monday of his life. As manager of the world-famous Elvis Presley, he has raised the singer to King status only to now feel him drifting from his grasp. With Elvis increasingly insulated by the ÒMemphis Mafia,Ó The Colonel canÕt get him on the phone or confirm his whereabouts. Amusing himself with his assistant Roscoe who heÕs hypnotized into thinking heÕs a dog can only last so long. Repeated calls and enquiries are getting him nowhere, and his worries increase when Òfront page poisonÓ reporter Jill Tanner stops by his office looking for an exciting story.

As his desperation to find Elvis grows, The Colonel confesses to his friend Candy that heÕs a chronic gambler and has an IOU to a Las Vegas gangster that comes due in two days. If he wants to keep his legs in their present working condition, he has to deliver Elvis to The Golden Horseshoe in Vegas for a one-night show. When Candy asks in jest if The Colonel has another Elvis lying around, an idea collides with an accident that could lead to more trouble or The ColonelÕs salvation.

V. Cate and Duke Ernsberger weave fact and fiction in the comical ÒElvis Has Left the Building,Ó now playing at Chanticleers Theatre in Castro Valley. Director Jacob Russell-Snyder puts together a production of light and breezy fun with a pleasing cast that brings the laughs.

Jeffrey W. Tan is a robust and confident Colonel, easily taking the lead with presence and humor. Equally enjoyable is Jonathan A. Gergen, whose Candy is cool, grounded, and immediately likable. But Gergen really makes his mark when the jumpsuit and sunglasses go on. His Elvis is crisp and fun and will have you sold. In the battle of the Elvises, Gergen is the clear winner.

Will Mattingly brings ample energy and commitment as the geeky, awkward Roscoe, and RoscoeÕs attempts to get down the moves and sound of Elvis are MattinglyÕs best moments. He makes the most of his Elvis transformation, but the performance is difficult to sustain, and unfortunately falls flat in the concert scene. Some technical issues were also at play here, as the music didnÕt line up well and the lyrics were hard to understand with what seemed to be lip-syncing.

Marsha Howard never takes a wrong step as German secretary Trudy and is a wonderful compliment to the show. Tyler Jeffreys as Jill is appealing but would benefit from adding a bit more bite to the Ònews vampireÓ reporter.

The play is set entirely in the office of The Colonel, which is nicely rendered by set designer Michael J. Simons with natural wood paneling and stripes of turquoise carpet for pop, the required Elvis posters and photos, framed gold records, and steer horns over the window. However, it is a detraction in the brief concert scene where the only alteration is the addition of a microphone stand. A simple curtain would have been of great benefit to create a change of place and focus.

Elvis fan or not, ÒElvis Has Left the BuildingÓ is full of fun and energy that requires nothing more than the desire for an evening of pure entertainment.

Elvis Has Left the Building
Friday, Jun 30 Ð Sunday, Jul 23
8 p.m., Sundays at 6 p.m.
Chanticleers Theatre
3683 Quail Ave, Castro Valley
(510) 733-5483
Tickets: $25, $20 seniors/students/military

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