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Elvis Presley film classic set to rock the West End



Preview by Jack Foley

ELVIS Presley-mania could well be hitting the West End from April, when Jailhouse Rock: The Musical opens at the Piccadilly Theatre.

The 'amazing project' will star Mario Kombou, a self-confessed Presley fan and former north London hairdresser, in the role of Vince Everett, a role which helped to catapult a young Elvis to fame.

The show tells the story of a young man (Everett), from the wrong side of the tracks, who discovers his own musical talent while doing time, and emerges to become the world's greatest rock 'n' roll star.

However, he later discovers that he isn't ready for the pressures that money and fame can bring.

Produced by Theatre Partners, Jailhouse Company and Volcanic Island, Jailhouse Rock: The Musical is directed by Rob Bettinson and choreograped by Drew Anthony. It will open at the Piccadilly Theatre on April 19, following previews from March 26.

Although based on the film, the musical will tell a much bigger story and will use hit songs from the era.

The production will also chart the birth of rock 'n' roll, by pinpointing its roots in the black music of the time and 'showing how singers like Presley and those who were writing for artists like him carried those influences over into the American teenage mainstream'.

A launch event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe, in Hyde Park, on January 9, 2004, at which Kombou gyrated his way through a couple of Elvis classics, Suspicious Minds and Burning Love.

He was joined at the event by Preslye's cousin and commemorative author, Donna Presley Early, who predicted 'huge huge success' for the show.

The film itself was released in 1957, a year after Presley's Love Me Tender screen debut. But it cemented his reputation as one of the most exciting performers of his generation and paved the way for a phenomenally successful career.

Jailhouse Rock marks the latest collaboration from Alan Janes and Rob Bettinson, best known for Buddy Holly bio-musical Buddy, which ended its record-breaking 12 years in the West End in March 2002.

Other members of the cast include Lisa Peace (as Peggy van Aulden), Roger Alborough (Hawk Houghton) and Gilz Terara (Quickly Robinson).

Prior to its West End run, Jailhouse Rock will visits Plymouth and Manchester, and tickets are now on sale from the usual outlets.

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