The show’s book, music and lyrics were written by Lory Lazarus. Mr. Lazarus is a prominent composer and lyricist who wrote songs for Barney & Friends, the long running children’s television show about a dinosaur.
Lazarus’ score is an entertaining blend of rock, pop and show tunes. None of Elvis Presley’s actual songs are heard, but there are a number of clever takeoffs such as “Viva Milwaukee!” and “Spread the Word of Hound Dog.”
His good-natured book is a shambles. The serious, campy and satirical elements don’t connect. The plot is crammed and wayward. It recalls the 1960’s Batman television show as well as counterculture fantasies such as the 1968 film Wild in The Streets and Brian De Palma’s movie, The Phantom of The Paradise.
Drac Frenzie, who resembles Guns and Roses guitarist Slash, with his black top hat, long, curly hair and sunglasses, is a Grammy winning heavy metal star. He is restless with his life and career. As a child he met Elvis Presley who gave him a medallion. Drac has an epiphany: he’ll become Elvis. His agent is furious. Drac sets off for Graceland, inspires a messianic movement and buys the state of Tennessee. He is being covered by a Zonk TV news reporter, the blonde and gorgeous Prissy Bordeaux. A romance blossoms.
Meanwhile, Europe is invaded by the insidious Anti-Christ, a villainous fop. “FUX News” provides bulletins of all of these developments that are projected on a large video screen. There are cliffhangers, battles, clashes of wills, and a rousing finale.
It’s all strained, labored and simply not very funny due to the ponderous dialogue and choppy structure. Still, the energetic cast puts as much effort into their performances as if they were in a smash Broadway show.
With his leading man good looks, charisma and exceptional singing and dancing talents, Eric Sciotto is terrific as Drac, and elevates the show with his dynamic performance. Mr. Sciotto is commanding doing a typical heavy metal number while shirtless, wearing a black leather vest and animal print pants. Sciotto is equally as forceful while channeling Elvis in a variety of authentic outfits.
Broadway veteran Jim Borstelmann is delightfully hammy as the Vincent Price-style Anti-Christ. Mr. Borstelmann makes the most of a few marvelous song and dance numbers.
The lovely Laura Woyasz winningly plays Prissy Bordeaux as a warm and daffy girl next door with the spirit of Ann-Margret.
The rest of the ensemble is comprised of Curtis Wiley, Michael Biren, Jesse Carrey-Beaver, Badia Farha, Warren Kelley, Jeff Kready, Whit K. Lee, Emily Jeanne Phillips, Catherine Walker and Jayme Wappel. They all offer strong portrayals of the loony characters.
Director Don Stephenson injects liveliness and a clipped pace with his expert staging. Melissa Zaremba’s vibrant choreography cannily evokes the dances from several Presley movies, as well as some original flashiness.
Tracy Christensen’s opulent costume design is an eye-catching collection of loud garments that perfectly suit the multitude of zany characters that include a wisecracking Hasidic rabbi and a Catholic nun.
The scenic design by Paul Tate dePoo III is a simple curved structure that along with Shawn Duan’s bold projection design seamlessly and swiftly conveys the numerous locales.
Travis McHale’s lighting design and Josh Liebert’s sound design skillfully evoke the look and texture of rock concerts, movie musicals and off-kilter events.
Attack of the Elvis Impersonators has many of the outlandish elements in place that many successful Off-Broadway musicals of the past such as Little Shop of Horrors had, but is hindered by its faulty script. It’s fun without being funny.
Attack of the Elvis Impersonators (through July 30, 2017)
The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit http://www.elvisimpersonatorsmusical.com
Running time: two hours with one intermission