- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Always eager to keep Elvis Presley working, managers of his estate have turned their sights to Broadway.

Mr. Presley died in 1977 at his Memphis residence, Graceland, but his music and his value as an entertainer and advertising pitchman are as alive as ever.

“All Shook Up,” a musical commissioned by the Elvis Presley estate and featuring a string of Mr. Presley’s hit songs, is scheduled to open on Broadway in spring 2005. It will first play Goodspeed Musicals’ Norma Terris Theater in Chester, Conn., May 13 through June 6, 2004.

The plot concerns what happens in a loveless town when a magical jukebox and a lady-loving, leather-clad stranger arrive, producer Jonathan Pollard said Tuesday. It takes place in the mid-1950s in “Anywhere, USA,” he added.

“We are going to Goodspeed Chester to get a sense of what we have,” Mr. Pollard told Associated Press. “It’s the first step in the development [of the show].”

The musical will then move to a larger city (not yet decided) before heading to Broadway.

“All Shook Up” is not about Mr. Presley, and no actor plays him in the show, but it features 20 of his songs, including such hits as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender” and “Burning Love,” as well as lesser-known pieces.

Jack Soden, chief executive of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said he and his staff came up

with the Broadway idea about two years ago, largely because of the success of “Mamma Mia!” — a musical featuring the music of the pop group ABBA.

“If your full-time job is Elvis, we kind of do think tanks. We sit around, and we look at the world and what are the opportunities for us,” Mr. Soden said.

Joe DiPietro, author of the musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” was hired to write the play and came up with the story. The estate didn’t want a Presley biography.

“It probably wouldn’t succeed because it would be dismissed as a highly produced Elvis-impersonator show,” Mr. Soden said.

Mr. Pollard has lined up several backers for the show, including Clear Channel Entertainment and Miramax Films.

The Presley estate, which holds the publishing rights to many of the hundreds of songs the King recorded, is owned entirely by his only child, daughter Lisa Marie Presley.

Graceland, with its complex of souvenir shops, attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year.

Mr. Soden said the show already has begun to draw a bit of notice, generally in the entertainment industry.

“The process of developing a show like this is a long one, so you kind of have a tendency to both acknowledge that it’s under way and being worked on, but you don’t really go for the ‘Get ready, public, here we come’,” he said.

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