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All the King’s Women – Elvis is Alive at The Little Theatre of Alexandria

Jordan Wright
June 11, 2012
Special to The Alexandria Times 

Sarah Holt, Ric Anderson, and Robin Parker   Photos by Doug Olmsted

Sarah Holt, Ric Anderson, and Robin Parker Photos by Doug Olmsted

Everybody loves Elvis.  The man was larger than life.  “The King of Rock and Roll”, who helped shape a mid-century pop culture and was a distinct influence on American music, is still with us today.  Rent-an-Elvis impersonators in cheek-hugging sideburns make pilgrimages to Memphis, Tennessee to gawk at his stately colonial mansion.  Graceland, the holiest of rock and roll shrines, where wife Priscilla, the envy of bobbysoxers everywhere, along with the King, raised their only child, Lisa Marie.  So naturally a show about Elvis’s women would include them, right?  Well no, not in this imaginary retelling.

All the King’s Women is an homage to Elvis Presley played out in vignettes by ordinary people Elvis came in contact with at different points in his life.  And despite the title they are not the most important women in his life, as you might surmise.  Priscilla, Lisa Marie, and mother, Gladys have no roles.  So don’t expect a love story here.  And in a bit of a misnomer there are four male characters in the play and no hip shakin’ goin’ on.

Ric Andersen and Jennifer Finch - Photos by Doug Olmsted

Ric Andersen and Jennifer Finch – Photos by Doug Olmsted

The play opens in Mississippi at the Tupelo Hardware Company.  It’s 1946, Elvis’s 11th birthday, and a virtual Gladys has taken him shopping for a twelve dollar Kay guitar in place of the rifle he was promised.  Sarah Holt plays the shop girl who drips with that peculiar combination of good manners and behind-your-back gossip called Southern charm.  Holt has the inflections and mannerisms down pat. In fact every character she plays will endear you to her.  Heads up for her hilarious three a.m. banana-and-peanut butter scene with Elvis in the supermarket.

Eight short vignettes are told though the eyes of the unknown women and men that drifted, if only temporarily, into his sacred sphere – the nameless secretaries, saleswomen, assistants and shoppers whose worlds were rocked by a chance encounter.

During scene changes photo slides from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are splashed onto a screen mounted on the back of the stage – iconic photos of Elvis’s pink Cadillac along with movie stills and a photo collage by Andy Warhol – providing a visual scrapbook of the King’s celebrity life and images of the day.  But it does seem strange not to have an actual Elvis in the play.

Instead four actors tackle seventeen roles including the auspicious hardware store purchase, a confab among Warhol’s effete staff and a well-publicized meeting in the White House with then president Richard Nixon in which Presley offered his service to the country as a federal agent while dressed in a purple velvet cape with matching slacks and a flashy 6-inch belt buckle.

Jennifer Finch and Robin Parker - Photos by Doug Olmsted

Jennifer Finch and Robin Parker – Photos by Doug Olmsted

One scene describes an early appearance on the Steve Allen Show.  Although Presley had yet to appear on television his scandalous hip gyrations were renowned and nearly got him banned from The Ed Sullivan Show, the most popular family variety show of the 1950’s.  In a meeting between Elvis’s press secretary, the network censor’s assistant and Allen’s secretary, Presley is instructed to wear top hat and white gloves.  He agreed to those conditions but insisted on wearing his blue suede shoes.  Allen finally demurred telling the censor’s assistant, “As long as his shoes are nailed to the floor!”

The cast works well together and the jokes are lighthearted.  A simply furnished set focuses the attention on the characters while familiar hits like Hound Dog and Amazing Grace are heard playing in the background.

See it if you want your funny bone all shook up.

Through June 30th at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street. For tickets and information call the box office at 703 683-0496 or visit

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