The King and I

Steve Connolly's Spirit of the King
By SHAULA CLARK  |  January 12, 2009

Watching a gaggle of aging townies shrieking "Love those buns!" and attempt to freak-dance with a buff leather-clad dude is scary enough at a Chippendales show — but the spectacle takes on a whole new level of disturbing when they're trying to molest a dead pop icon on his birthday. This, however, is par for the course at Spirit of the King, the traveling stage show of premier Elvis impersonator Steve Connolly. The original Presley would have turned 74 last Thursday; on Saturday, Connolly (a Worcester native who's a become a Vegas fixture) came to the Cutler Majestic Theatre to perform a birthday tribute to his muse.

I'd seen Spirit of the King twice before. The first time, I was in the front row at the Berklee Performance Center, mere inches away from Elvis's gyrating, rhinestone-sheathed crotch and the lusty oldsters who heaved their leathery cleavages at it. My next Elvis sighting was at , Dick's Last Resort, where instead of horny post-menopausalites, Connolly had to contend with a roomful of surly, liquored-up firefighters. At the Majestic, I took in a bird's-eye view of the scene from my balcony seat. And what a scene it was.

From opener "Shake, Rattle and Roll" to finale "Suspicious Minds," Connolly had the moves, outfits, vocals, and guitar licks, but the face underneath that sleek pompadour looked just a little too much like Steve Carrell's to keep the show from swerving into the uncanny valley. Still, a middle-aged couple were inspired to creep away from their balcony seats and slow-dance in the stairwell. Taking things a step farther was the girl who made a beeline for Elvis whenever he waded into the audience, all but humping his leg.

During the King's costume changes, his back-up singers performed their own dead-on impersonations. First up was Diana Ross with a heart-melting Motown medley. Then Tina Turner, whose ankle-snapping shimmy mesmerized the otherwise unruly crowd.

After the show (which clocked in at three hours and nearly 40 songs), Connolly headed to the lobby to be swarmed by camera-wielding boomers. For a moment, I envisioned his being devoured by these rabid fans. Then again, if Elvis can escape a horde of drunken Boston firefighters, he can survive anything.

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