Like Cirque's Las Vegas take on the Beatles in Love," Viva Elvis" attempts to capture the magical spirit of one of rock 'n' roll's most mythic figures. But does the Canadian company succeed?
Lewis notes that there are some striking musical numbers, including a military-themed treatment of Return to Sender." He adds that Cirque made a wise choice in bypassing any male singers for the live renditions of Elvis Presley classics. Wrote Lewis, Several numbers that are rendered anew are sung by female cast members, occasionally in duet with the King's own disembodied voice."
Yet ultimately, Lewis concludes,"Viva Elvis" celebrates the glitz of Graceland excess more than it explores the mystery of the man it is honoring. In comparing it to Love," Lewis wrote that the latter brought the Beatles to Las Vegas without a hint of schlock, a mission apparently impossible with Elvis given that his association with Sin City virtually defined the contemporary notion of pop-culture kitsch."
Lewis continued, Cirque might have attempted to ignore that aspect of his career, but instead embraces it, and often in witty, mostly affectionate ways in a production for which tickets run $99 to $175. Ultimately, however, 'Viva Elvis' is skewed more toward fans who are captivated by the cultural excess of Graceland than those most drawn to the startling power of his best music."