REVIEW: Love Me Tender at Sunderland Empire

LOVE ME TENDER. Picture by Johan Persson.
LOVE ME TENDER. Picture by Johan Persson.

Elvis is in the building – well the Sunderland Empire to be precise – as rock’n’roll-tastic musical Love Me Tender burst onto the stage.

The brand new touring show which opened in the city on Monday after premiering in Manchester in June.

LOVE ME TENDER. Picture by Johan Persson.

LOVE ME TENDER. Picture by Johan Persson.

And be quick – because you have until Saturday to catch the show on your home turf. Because who doesn’t love Elvis?

Love Me Tender – from Adam Spiegel Productions, Robert G. Bartner and the Ambassador Theatre Group – features and is inspired by classic Elvis songs – packing in 25 hits by the King himself for feel-good factor that is off the scale.

The audience is treated to legendary tunes including Jail House Rock, One Night With You, Hound dog, It’s Now or Never, Love Me Tender and Blue Suede Shoes.

The plot centres around a generic un-named American small town, which is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of Elvis-like character Chad – played by Love Never Dies and Doctors actor Ben Lewis.

LOVE ME TENDER. Picture by Johan Persson.

LOVE ME TENDER. Picture by Johan Persson.

When the townsfolk start to fall in love with one another, evil Mayor Matilda Hyde (Sean Reeves) who has banned public displays of affection, has a fight on her hands.

No sooner has Chad arrived when mechanic’s daughter Natalie (Laura Tebbutt) falls for him slap bang and wallop. But Chad has other ideas, instead chasing after glamorous museum worker Miss Sandra (Kate Tydman).

On follows a farcical wild-goose chase by Natalie, in which she morphs into Chase’s side kick – bad lad Ed – to get close to him. But it all goes badly wrong when Miss Sandra accidentally falls for Ed – or in other words Natalie in disguise.

Tebbutt really shines in both her male and female guises with a voice that really packs a punch, also worth mentioning is the singing prowess of Aretha Ayeh as Lorraine.

But it is Mica Paris who really steals the show with her larger-than-life voice as Sylvia, Lorraine’s mother, who eventually ends up with former East Enders star Shaun Williamson’s character Jim.

Williamson’s hilarious portrayal of Natalie’s widowed father that add an extra comic twist to the production, which had many an audience member laugh out loud throughout the show.

At by the end, not even the frigid Mayor can keep her hands off the local police chief Sheriff Earl (Chris Howell) as the pair dance away into the sunset.

So get bitten by the jitter-bug and get yourselves along to Sunderland Empire for a show that is sure to leave you ‘all shook up’.

Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland

@petrasilfver