The nights might be getting cold in South East Queensland, but the HOTA stage is heating up with a strictly limited season of Elvis: A Musical Revolution.

A completely new bio-musical, Elvis: A Musical Revolution is presented by David Venn Enterprises and proudly features an all-Australian cast. The musical premiered in Sydney in July last year and has been performing around the country ever since, winning the 2024 Green Room Award for Best Choreography. Directed by Alister Smith, with musical direction by Daniel Puckey, the team have delivered a fast-paced, dazzling, musical theatre spectacular that will appeal to anyone who loves a big, bright production.

Book writers Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti have chosen to shift focus away from Elvis’ troubled later years, in a move that makes this show appealing to a broader audience. Instead, they’ve bookended the production with the ‘68 Comeback Special and explored pivotal moments in Elvis’ life leading up to that event.

Dan Potra’s stunning set design paid tribute to the Comeback Special before the show even started with a large red neon Elvis sign dominating the stage. Layer upon layer of dazzling neon lights framed the stage, with fantastical lighting design by Declan O’Neill. Together with costumes by Isaac Lummis and wigs by Trent Whitmore, the magic of an era was successfully captured.

As the King of Rock ‘n Roll, Rob Mallett’s portrayal was very grounded and natural, and he swept the audience up in the story as we tracked a shy young man from Tupelo, Mississippi who rose to unprecedented levels of fame. Mallett had the looks, the moves and the voice. His younger counterpart was played on opening night by Sebastian Sero, who recurred throughout the show in childhood flashbacks. This helped give context to Elvis’ musical origins, including the moment when he received his first guitar as an 11th birthday present from his parents.

Elvis: A Musical Revolution is suitable for everyone, not just die-hard fans, but be sure to bring tissues, as I was caught out at the end of an emotionally charged Act One involving Elvis’ mother Gladys, poignantly portrayed by Noni McCallum.

Photo credit: Nicole Cleary

The music drew the crowds, and there was an avalanche of classic hits, but it was the dancing that was truly impressive. The high-energy dance sequences were show-stopping, with partner flips and lifts that were mind-blowing. Kirby Burgess was an all-around standout; her dancing was fearless, particularly in the Act Two group opener, ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’ Her dance solo as 60s Hollywood star Ann-Margret was also amazing and her duet with Mallett, ‘You’re the Boss’ was an Act Two highlight. It was interesting to learn that Burgess also served as the Assistant Choreographer, and was nominated for a Green Room Award for her role(s) as a supporting artist. As well as the aforementioned Best Choreography Award, Michael Ralph received the Betty Pounder Award for Excellence in Choreography for his work on the show, making him a four-time recipient.

It’s hard to include every outstanding moment as there were so many: the Act One Television Medley, the Frank Sinatra TV show segment, and the Act Two Movie Medley, to name a few. Aidan O Cleirigh, Hanlon Innocent and Connor Morel were fantastic as The Blue Room Boys, Elvis’ backing band, with Morel’s drumming on full display in the Act Two Rehearsal Room scene, a skill he picked up especially for the role. Charly Williams and Joti Gore gave a stirring rendition of ‘Baby, What You Want Me to Do’ with Sero as Kid Elvis in a 1943 flashback.

The absolute show highlight was the Comeback Special finale with the full company on stage and Mallett in the iconic white Elvis costume. The crowd were quickly on their feet and Mallett invited the audience to capture some of the special moments on their phones. There may be cheeky snippets on the socials under the hashtag #elvisamusicalrevolutionau

Elvis: A Musical Revolution is playing at HOTA (Home of the Arts), 135 Bundall Road Surfers Paradise until 7th July. It’s well worth making the trip down the coast to see it.


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Photo credit: Daniel Boud