Spirit of the King
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Spirit of the King


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"Connolly Rocks the Joint at Bally's"

Connolly's Elvis performance rocks the joint at Bally's

By Joe Delaney

Las Vegas Sun, October, 1999


Boston-born Steve Connolly's "Love Him Tender," a well-conceived, excellently performed tribute to Elvis Presley, started with good attendance on Oct. 7, doing two p.m. performances, Thursdays through Mondays, in Bally's Jubilee Room, and has been building solidly since.

Connolly's appearance is that of the early, less portly Elvis. The voice is good and Connolly has captured the Presley sound without duplicating it. He has the athleticism and all the moves in a very physical approach to his subject. The audience seemed to respond as though they were seeing the original. Females outnumbered males about two to one.

Collin Foster served as narrator-emcee and opened the show as a good warm-up should. Connolly was greeted warmly; he has charisma and a good sense of humor. His approach to the show and its chronological construction sets it apart. "Trouble" and "Guitar Man" set the mood for what was to follow.

The second segment, "1950s TV," had a costume change that included his wearing blue suede shoes for "Blue Suede Shoes," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Hound Dog." "Movie Songs" were next, including "Jailhouse Rock," "Return to Sender" and "Viva Las Vegas."

Collin Foster returned to set the scene for Elvis' debut at the International, now the Las Vegas Hilton, in the late 1960s. Connolly, in a black leather outfit, sang "Heartbreak Hotel," "All Shook Up" and "Love Me Tender" in a strong segment.

What followed was even stronger, featuring Connolly on guitar, a good player, backed by his band, called Blue Suede Shoes, as they rocked through "That's All Right, Mama," "Baby, What Do You Want Me to Do," "Trying to Get to You," "Baby Lets Play House," and "Are You Lonesome Tonight."

The topper was "Millenium Y2King," featuring Elvis, if he were alive today, as he might have covered Queen's "We Will Rock You." The Offspring's " Pretty Fly for a White Guy," with Connolly/Elvis adding a drum solo, plus a Connolly original, "No, I Don't Believe in Love."

"Suspicious Minds" was the show closer with full intros and a standing ovation that included the men as well. The performance seemed much shorter than its actual 80 minutes, a high compliment.

Credits for Blue Sued Shoes, the band: musical director/guitarist Jerry Lopez; Mike Dowe, piano; Dave Richardson, keyboards; Greg Smith, guitar; Pete Sturnberg, bass; and Eddy Garcia drums; The vocal group, called Sweet Generation, consists of Shonica, Robyn St. Romain and in-demand Genine Marie, featured with Wayne Newton as well.

With the recent auction of Presley belongings at the MGM Grand, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in Elvis. The audience at the show caught was a good cross section, the right demographics, sufficient numbers, great response, auguring well for the success of this engagement.

- Las Vegas Sun

"Just The Facts"

•Voted Best of Las Vegas Elvis Impersonators
•Over 3000 Live Performances
•Only Elvis Entertainer to Have His own Show running daily in a Major showroom ( Jubilee Theatre ) of a major Strip Casino ( Bally’s)
• Highest Rated “Elvis” show in Las Vegas Press
• Winner “Best Elvis in Las Vegas” Contest in 1999 hosted by local Agencies
• Many Celebrity Endorsements including President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Elvis Presley’s Conductor, Bobbie Morris. ”
• Endorsement from John Stewart, the creator of “Legends in Concert” the most famous celebrity impersonator show in Las Vegas
• National TV Appearances on : TNN – Prime Time Country ( 3 times ), ESPN, Jerry Lewis Telethon, E! Wild on Sin City, MTV – Las Vegas Performance, and many, many more!
• Film Appearance in 3000 Miles to Graceland
• Selected Performer for Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce 90 th Anniversary Celebration
• Selected by Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority to open the VIVA Vision Display on Fremont St. – the largest LCD display in the world.
• Selected by members of the rock group Queen to be the voice of Elvis in their Rock opera – “We Will Rock You”
• Top 2% of John Lennon Songwriting Contest out of 25,000 entrants
• Only Elvis Entertainer ever invited to perform at the prestigious Berklee School of Music Performing Arts Center
- see Website: www.spiritoftheking.com

"Elvis - Past and Present at Bally's"

Elvis - both past and future - at Bally's

By Stacy Welling

Los Angeles Times, October 31, 1999


In Las Vegas, Elvis definitely has not left the building. In fact, it's easy to find The King dwelling in a number of hotel showrooms.

Sometimes he sports the white jumpsuit and rhinestone-studded shades reminiscent of his ' 70's incarnation. In other acts, he parades across a stage as a comedian donning a bulging belly and balking hairline.

But the latest Elvis Presley impersonation show pays tribute to The King's younger, leaner, and sexier years. Called "Love Him Tender," the afternoon show opened this month at Bally's Jubilee Theatre and presents the Elvis fans loved in the '50's and '60's , as well as one they might see if he were to make a comeback today.

As the show's creator and principal star, Steven Connolly gravitates to Presley's fit and trim tears for obvious reasons. At 6 ft. tall and 170 pounds, the hunky Connolly not only has the build to pull off the young Presley, but also boasts The King's dark and handsome good looks.

"Aside from the physical part of just being drawn to the younger Elvis because I look like him, I wanted to come up with something that was endearing to Elvis," Connolly explains. " I want the show to have a certain reverence for what he's done, as opposed to satire or spoofing Elvis."

Sporting the requisite jet-black hair and sideburns, Connolly started his Las Vegas career in 1996 when he was hired to impersonate Presley at the MGM Grand Adventures Park. The initial job was simply to meet and greet visitors, but the assignment grew to include his vocal and guitar playing talents. By the time he left the MGM in late September, Connolly had performed more than 2,500 times in the theme park.

"It began as a 30-day gig, and it turned into almost three years," he says. "In the beginning it was just kind of a thing that they tried, and it snowballed."

Based in Bally's Jubilee Theatre, Connolly's new show runs about an hour and 20 minutes and includes costume changes. It also benefits from state-of-the-art lighting and a surround-sound system. At night the 1,040 seat theater is the home of "Jubilee" one of Las Vegas' largest full-scale production shows. But by day, Connolly manages to fill the venue via his strong vocals and ever-roaming presence both on stage and off.

He also gets help from a supporting cast that includes three female vocalists and the rollicking Blue Suede Shoes band.

"It's not so much a production show as a concert," says Connolly, whose energetic antics include an assortment of hip thrusts, karate kicks and up-close singing moments with plenty of women in the audience. "That's what Elvis was all about - live concerts - and that's what I'm trying to do."

The show opens with Connolly and company doing lively versions of the songs "Trouble" and "Guitar Man." Strumming an acoustic guitar, Connolly strolls on stage dressed in black slacks and a black shirt, and gets immediate applause for his smooth voice and Elvis-esque looks.

Emcee Collin Foster, who treats guests to a 15 minute pre-show comedy and magic routine, appears between segments to narrate periods of Presley's early career.

During the 1950's segment, Connolly "shows the audience what they missed on the 'Ed Sullivan Show'" when the real King was banned from the waist down. Donning a pink jacket and blue suede shoes, Connolly croons "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" with pelvic thrusts down pat.

Born in the late 60's in Winchester, Mass., Connolly had an easier time losing his East Coast accent than learning how to imitate Presley's dance moves.

"Elvis had a very jerky, very asymmetrical approach to dancing, but that's what makes it great," Connolly says. "It's like one-half of his body is doing one thing, and the other half is doing something else."

For Presley's Hollywood years, Connolly dons a gold jacket and revs up the crowd with energetic renditions of "Jailhouse Rock," "Return to Sender" and "Viva Las Vegas." Another portion of the show simulates Presley's 1968 comeback special on NBC. Connolly wears a copy of the black leather jacket and matching pants that Presley wore on the telecast. Songs include "Heartbreak Hotel," "All Shook Up" and a cozy acoustic set featuring "That's All Right, Mama" and other classics.

Connolly grew up in the 1970's and '80's listening to such bands as Bon Jovi, Kiss and AC/DC. His appreciation for Presley began with his mother, who requested The King's songs when Connolly first started singing in rock bands as a teen. "She was a big Elvis fan," Connolly says.

In 1993, he put on his first over-sized collar- in part to hide his then long hair - to sing the few Elvis tunes he knew at the time as part of a benefit concert in Boston. Afterward the promoter suggested he do Elvis full time.

"The guy was from Las Vegas an - Los Angeles Times

"Spirit of the King set to Open at Bally's"

Steve Connolly's "Love Him Tender" Set to Open in Bally's Jubilee Theattre

Las Vegas Israelite, October 4th, 1999


Elvis impressionist Steve Connolly opens a new "afternoon" show called "Love Him Tender" at Bally's - Las Vegas. The 2 p.m. show starts October 7 and runs Thursdays through Mondays in the Jubilee Showroom- dark Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tickets cost $14.95 plus tax.

"Love Him Tender" highlights the King of rock and roll, featuring the music and excitement of Elvis Presley - in a manner never done before. Elvis' musical catalog will be augmented by stage sets designed and created by Connolly himself. Segments of "Love Him Tender" will feature Steve Connolly's own original material as well as some unique Elvis compositions - another segment in which Connolly poses the question - what if? - and portrays Elvis singing contemporary material circa 2000, sleek, strong, and sexy.

"Love Him Tender," starring Steve Connolly, features an all-star live band and phenomenal vocal group to showcase an authentic, athletic recreation of the King's signature moves. Connolly, recently delivers a three-dimensional performance; the look, the voice and the hip movement that made Elvis famous. Connolly's personality captures the charismatic essence of Elvis, leaving audiences with a lasting impression of what made the King of rock' n roll a universal icon.

Recently named a winner of Las Vegas' top Elvis Show, Connolly's Las Vegas performances have recently topped the three thousand mark.

Bally's - Las Vegas, a Park Place Entertainment property is located at 3645 Las Vegas Blvd. South, on the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd. Bally's - Las Vegas has two 26 story hotel towers with 2814 guest rooms, including 265 suites. The resort encompasses 44 acres, of which 70,000 square feet is devoted to casino space- home of the world's first known $1,000 slots. Bally's also features gourmet restaurants such as al Dente, Bally's Steakhouse, Chang's and Seasons. Bally's is also home to the 1,040- seat Jubilee Theatre where "Jubilee!," one of the longest running production shows in the city still performs and is recently the venue for Steve Connolly's "Love Him Tender." For ticket information, call the Jubilee Theatre box office at (702) 967-4567.

- Las Vegas Israelite

"Connolly Brings Elvis Spirit to Fitzgerald's"

Connolly brings Elvis spirit to Fitzgeralds

By Jerry Fink

Las Vegas Sun, August 22, 2003


Elvis tribute artist Steve Connolly breezes through his hour long “Spirit of the King” show at Fitzgeralds like a marathon runner competing in a 50-yard dash.

The handsome, athletic, fan-friendly entertainer has performed thousands of shows in glamorous venues such as the MGM Grand and the luxurious Bellagio.

Fans have loved him tender at the Riviera and Caesars Palace. They have gotten all shook up by his performances in “Jubilee!” at Bally’s.

He was treated nice in the short-lived “Tease” at the now-defunct Blue Note Las Vegas.

So what’s the Boston native doing in a 150-seat theater on the second floor of a casino in the heart of old downtown Las Vegas?

Having a ball, apparently.

Connolly is a showman. Watching him seduce an audience, you can tell he loves what he does and would probably be doing it on a street corner if he couldn’t show off his talents anywhere else.

And Fitzgerald’s isn’t bad.

While local politicians are fretting about what to do to revitalize downtown, Fitzgeralds is giving itself a dusting, refurbishing the interior to make it more inviting. Detroit businessman Don Barden, who bought the property almost two years ago, has added new carpets, improving the lighting and remodeling different areas.

One of the areas that benefited from the remodeling was a lounge stuck in a corner on the second floor of the casino.

The lounge was transformed into the Events Center Showroom, a clunky name for a venue trying to change its image from a staid, rather drab facility into a much hipper place.

There isn’t anything glamorous or luxurious about the room, but it is light years from what it was before. The space is functional and comfortable, unlike some places where they try to squeeze two people into an area barely big enough for one in order to milk every last penny of profit from patrons.

After making changes in the room, Fitzgeralds Entertainment Director ( and facilities manager ) Gene Sagas began a makeover of the entertainment.

A sexy new production, “Diva-Licious,” is the venue’s answer to Las Vegas’ latest craze for adult entertainment ( 9 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays ) . Comedian Wild Billy Tucker performs at 10: 30 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays, and impressionist Larry G. Jones’ performance is at 5 p.m.

Connolly’s “Spirit of the King” has the 7 p.m. time slot.

As a rule, he does one performance nightly. But Saturday was special – the 26th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley , who died on Aug. 16, 1977, at his home in Memphis.

To commemorate the passing of the man who made it possible for Connolly to have a career, the tribute artist did two shows and conducted brief candle-lighting services in each.

Showgirls walked among the capacity audiences to distribute and light the candles preceding a moment of silence to remember The King.

It wasn’t a particularly touching moment, but it’s almost mandatory that an Elvis artist do something to memorialize the death ( and the birth) of Presley.

It’s hard to find fault with Connolly’s performance.

He has an excellent singing voice. His Elvis shtick is dead-on, from the roundhouse karate kicks to the hip-thrusting gyrations, and he has a good sense of humor that ingratiates him to his audiences.

During one performance he spotted a 90-year-old man in the audience with a full head of snow white hair.

“My God, look at that,” he said, focusing attention on the elderly fan. “ There’s a bunch of 30-year-old bald guys going, ‘ What the heck is that all about?’”

For Connolly’s first performance Saturday he concentrated on the ‘60s Elvis, wearing a black leather outfit similar to that worn by Elvis during his televised “Comeback Special” in 1968.

After he finished a song, one of the females in the audience asked about getting a scarf, an Elvis trademark in later years.

“This is the ‘60’s, baby,” he said. “ I didn’t have no scarves. I didn’t think of that yet.”

Connolly, backed by a track rather than live musicians for this show, packed a lot into his relatively short performance, making the hour fly by.

He paid lots of attention to his fans as he sang some of Elvis’ most recognizable early songs, including such numbers as “Love Me Tender, “ “Ready Teddy,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”

He bantered with the audience.

Midway through the show he picked up his guitar (he’s very good) and started to sit on a stool when he noted that his leather pants were extremely tight.

“There’s a good chance I may show you a little different side of Elvis tonight,” Connolly joked. The side the audience saw was one everyone liked.

As long as there are entertainers such as Connolly paying tribute to Elvis, the spirit of The - Las Vegas Sun





You might be wondering if this type of show is appropriate for an event the size of a large Convention or a festival or fair. Elvis Presley's fame and ability to entertain was without equal, so is it possible to re-create this excitement musically? The answer is yes! Steve has passed beyond the impersonator stage to present a show - with a full orchestra and horn section - which makes it possible to completely re-create the excitement of Elvis Presley at his peak. Many skeptics after watching Steve perform realize that this type of entertainment is as unique and thrilling as anything available (Donald Trump after all is a hard sell). Steve Connolly is the only entertainer of this type to be invited to perform at the Berkley School of Music. He has also headlined his own show on the Las Vegas Strip at Bally's Hotel and Casino. All of this indicates only in part the level of excitement a show from Steve Connolly can generate - as The Spirit of the King.