By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Not even the title of Idols of the King makes sense. Ronnie Claire Edwards' plotless script, onstage now at Theatre Three, features an Elvis impersonator, Jack Foltyn, performing "Hound Dog," "Burning Love" and other Presley hits between sketches about a series of characters (all played by Michael Corolla and Morgana Shaw) who are diehard fans of the King. So Presley is their idol, not the other way around.
These idolizers, who include a grocery store clerk, an aging showgirl and an elderly couple whose toilet once was graced by the owner of Graceland, are written and played broadly, either as dumb hicks or broken-down losers. Not one of them seems based in reality and nothing they say about themselves or their love of Elvis is all that funny or interesting.
So that leaves Foltyn, swiveling his slim hips in a sparkly white bat-winged jumpsuit and crooning "Love Me Tender" up on a platform by a band that's so tired the songs limp along at half-tempo. Foltyn's been in other productions of Idols of the King and he's starred in his own Elvis act for years. He's a good mover and a capable singer. But he looks nothing — repeat, nothing — like Elvis Presley. Actually he sounds and looks more like the late Ricky Nelson. If somebody's writing a Ricky Nelson bio-musical, he's your guy.
Without a storyline to follow, it's just sketch-song-sketch. There is no high point, no big laugh, no tug of the heart. Just hokey dialogue and pokey musical numbers force-fed by two good actors and a kind-of-OK fake Elvis. It gets old fast. And then there's another hour to go.
The production directed by Terry Dobson also looks dowdy. We've seen the iconic Elvis costumes, so putting this show's Elvis in a baggy yellow satin suit with puckered seams and odd lapels is all kinds of wrong. Costumes are credited to Bruce Coleman, though Foltyn has provided his own Elvis-wear, which here includes a terribly un-Elvis black and white floral puffy shirt. Elvis Presley rocked a lot of fashion in his lifetime, but he was not and never would have been a pirate.