by MIKE CHAIKEN
One of the aspects of the “Legends in Concert” franchise that I have always enjoyed is that the performers never hold back.
When the performers step up on stage as Elvis, Michael Jackson, etc., the audience never gets a paint-by-numbers tribute performance. The performers don’t just stand up, offer up a pinpoint visual portrait of the artists to which they are paying tribute, and then proceed to offer up a so-so, note-for-note rendition of that star’s greatest hits.
With “Legends in Concert,” it’s really not about looking like a performer to the point of being a clone. It’s embodying the passion of the original “Legend.” Each performer of “Legends in Concert” hits the gas and gives the show 110 percent… and maybe more. In some ways, the performers outshine the originals.
This was definitely the case with the Dec. 20 edition of “Legends in Concert” at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods.
Each and every performer for the evening broke out into a sweat and left themselves breathless with all of the energy they exerted on stage. They gave themselves a workout rather than punching in and putting in time at another 9 to 5 job.
The highlight for the night was Leo Days as Elvis Presley. From the moment he stepped onto the stage of the Fox Theater, he crackled with energy. Walking out into the spotlight—whether in head-to-toe leather or in the trademark white jumpsuit, Days infused the King of Rock and Roll’s music with the hunger that the young Elvis must have exuded as he worked his way to the top. Days also exuded the same kind of smoldering sexuality of the original when Elvis was the heartthrob of every girl in a poodle skirt. Days may have been playing a character, but Days exhibited true star quality during his stint on stage. He gave the audience a “Show,” with a capital S.
This is not to say the rest of the cast– J Lucas as The King of Pop as Michael Jackson, Kimberly Goltry as Madonna, Jazmine as Whitney Houston, and Dan Miesner and Russ Peterson as The Blue Brothers—were any slouches by any means. Like Day, they took their “characters” and ran with them—infusing their performances with dimension and passion that challenged our memories of the originals.
“Legends in Concert” also is immensely helped by the talent behind the “stars.” The band was definitely cooking. The arrangements were true to the originals, but the musicians infused them with pedal to the metal energy. And the dancers, like the singers, worked their butts off. They clearly pushed themselves through the choreography rather than simply going through the motions.
And like always, the stage set, lights, and sound were top notch, which is a “Legends in Concert” trademark.
Although this run, which continues through Jan. 3, is being billed as the holiday edition, don’t be turned off by the thought this version is all about Christmas music. The performers all do get a swing at holiday chestnuts such as “Blue Christmas” or “Jingle Bells.” But like every “Legends in Concert” show, you get to hear songs that made the original artists famous. So, Days does sing “Suspicious Minds;” Lucas sings “Billie Jean;” Jazmine sings “I Will Always Love You;” Goltry sings “Vogue;” and Miesner and Peterson offer up “Soul Man.”
Ultimately, I think what I like about “Legends in Concert” is that it’s not about just offering up an hour-plus of entertainment to keep the audiences busy between runs at the slot machines. It’s about giving the audience a show they will remember and they will talk about as they leave the Fox Theater.
I give “Legends in Concert” Holiday 2014 production on Dec. 20 four out of four stars.
Shows at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods are are every Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., every Sunday at 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances each Tuesday at 2 p.m. Keep in mind there are no shows on Mondays, and there will be no performances Wednesday, Dec. 24, Thursday, Dec. 25 or Saturday, Dec. 27.
Tickets are $30 and $40, and are available at www.foxwoods.com or by calling the Foxwoods’ box office at 800-200-2882, Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. You can also buy them at the box office. As a side note, every time I go to the show, there is a long line of people waiting to get in so plan accordingly.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN