Stage Show Wins Rave Reviews:
Suede Shoes" (The Elvis Ballet)
when "Blue Suede Shoes"--it's Elvis Presley music in an 80-minute
ballet--opens at the State Theater. Nahat, after 20 months of work
on the production, says, "Everyone's going to be jammin' in the aisles!
I'm sure of it! I already am jammin' in the aisles!"
ELECTRIFYING CLEVELAND BALLET! by
John Herrington WMV Web News Cleveland Story filed May 2,
in the aisles" may not be a descriptive that one usually associates
with the Cleveland Ballet, but Company Artistic Director Dennis
Nahat says that's exactly what he expects to happen beginning
May 24 on Playhouse Square.
conceived "Blue Suede Shoes" as a "feel good" production. He choreographed
it; he directs it, and he has the musical arrangements of award-winning
composer William Ross ("Forrest Gump," "The Bodyguard"), and the
expertise of Hollywood costume and set designer Bob Mackie (six
Emmy Awards, three Academy Awards) to go with 36 Presley songs and
the ballet and gymnastic talent of 49 dancers.
world premiere of "Blue Suede Shoes" will cover 16 performances
between May 24 and June 7, with official opening night scheduled
for May 29. It will be the finale of the Ballet's 20th anniversary
season. It's a musical double-banger, as Bob Mackie says: "A lot
of poeple will come to the theater who have never seen professional
ballet before. But, they'll come because they love Elvis and because
they'll be curious. They'll know it can't be 'Swan Lake.' One thing
for sure: it won't be your typical night at the ballet!" And that's
BALLET TO BOOGIE by John Herrington WMV Web News Cleveland Story
filed May 11, 1996 "Blue Suede Shoes" begins rocking the State Theater
character of Elvis won't appear on stage, but the spirit of "the
King" certainly will be part of the Cleveland Ballet's world premiere
production. Thirty-six Presley songs will highlight the Cleveland
Ballet's world premiere production. Conceived and choreographed
by Ballet Artistic Director Dennis Nahat, the rock-and-roll ballet
takes three mid-1950's buddies (in their blue suede shoes, natch!)
from the high school to the hot dog drive-in, through graduation
and into the army. They roll through an age of innocence to the
rocky social changes of the 1960s and into the rise of disco in
is ballet? Tutti Frutti done in toe shoes? Bossa Nova Baby in a
tutu? Celebrated Hollywood designer Bob Mackie, who created costumes
and sets, says, "One thing for sure, it won't be your typical night
at the ballet." But he also says, "People will come who have never
seen professional ballet before because they love Elvis and because
they'll be curious."
will feed that curiousity with seven big production scenes that
include the high school and car-hop, a sexy black and red jail house
("Jail House Rock"), a wild disco dance club, and lotsa' legs and
feet shod in blue suede shoes. Nahat says all the songs will connect
to one another as though written for a scenario. Award-winning Hollywood
composer William Ross has the job of tying all the musical arrangements
and transition themes together.
Ballet's "New Dance Ventures" division is presenting "Blue Suede
Shoes." Its producer, David Oakland, sees this show introducing
"...dance to a very broad range of people, while simultaneously
drawing on the traditional ballet audience." Oakland believes "the
appeal of Presley's music, coupled with the creation of this innovative
and spectacular production should be very attractive to venues across
the country and abroad."
staging will come, and out-of-town interest is expected to be big
for the 16 performances of "Blue Suede Shoes" at the State Theater
on Playhouse Square. It previews May 24-27 with the official opening
night on Wednesday, May 29.
PRESLEY BOOSTS CLEVELAND BALLET by John Herrington WMV Web News
Cleveland Story filed May 31, 1996
may not come easily to critics, but the Cleveland Ballet's production
of "Blue Suede Shoes" is drawing these accolades: "A hit." "The
dancing is terrific." "Fabulous..." costumes and sets. "Big, glitzy
Plain Dealer dance critic Wilma Salisbury wrote: "Rarely has there
been so much spontaneous applause during a Cleveland Ballet performance."
It's a rock ballet set to Elvis Presley music, and Priscilla Presley
was among those joining in that applause. Those with her in her
State Theater box at the world premiere opening said that Presley's
former wife, "...laughed a lot, clapped a lot, and even cried during
some of the scenes."
is president of Elvis Presley Enterprises and she gave Cleveland
Ballet permission to use the 36 Presley songs, original master recordings
by the rock-and-roll icon. It is a big production, with "big" in
capital $-signs: a million-dollar spectacle of Bob Mackie costume
and set designs, William Ross orchestration, Christina Giannelli
lighting, and high-energy performance by the Ballet dancers.
Ballet artistic director Dennis Nahat conceived the show and choreographed
it. At the Ballet's Playhouse Square offices, Nahat these days is
described as, "One big walking grin." David Oakland is smiling,
too; he's president of "New Dance Ventures," the division of the
Cleveland Ballet that is presenting "Blue Suede Shoes."
cover budget, "Blue Suede Shoes" had to do $350,000 in ticket sales.
Sales already are above half-a-million dollars, 150 percent of the
goal. They could approach $800,000 before the show closes here June
7. The day after the official world premiere opening, there was
a record single-day ticket sale of $72,000. Broken down into a 10-hour
sales day, that's 7,000 tickets sold every hour.
good reviews given the show also are expected to boost ticket sales,
already described as "going through the roof." The future? "Blue
Suede Shoes" returns to the Cleveland stage next April, then goes
on the road to the new opera house in Detroit and then to San Jose,
the California city that shares the Ballet's identity and that provided
investors for this production.
presenters and promoters of ballet from across the country were
here for the opening. It is not out of the question that "Blue Suede
Shoes" could play all 35 of those venues. One ballet office spokesperson
said, "Blue Suede Shoes could play for the next three to five years."
That kind of acceptance would be emphasis to a Presley favorite,
"Love Me Tender.
BALLET GETS KICK FROM ELVIS by John Herrington WMV Web News
Cleveland Story filed June 8, 1996 The Cleveland Ballet has ended
its 20th anniversary season. One ballet spokesman called the season, "...a realization of the opportunity to pay homage to such staples
as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, a chance to celebrate our history,
and an ability to now point toward the future."
last part of the statement, about pointing "...toward the future,"
is result of the spectacular acceptance of the presentation of "Blue
Suede Shoes." The rock-and-roll ballet, created and choreographed
by artistic director Dennis Nahat, closed Friday, June 7, as a box
office hit that literally, spokesman Todd Stuart says, "gives the
Ballet the fiscal ability to continue."
Elvis Presley ballet, as it has been called, was a big ($1.1 million)
show with fantastic sets and costumes by Hollywood designer Bob
Mackie and orchestration by composer William Ross. And, it was big
in ticket sales: in the area of $700,000, with a final figure still
being calculated. They had set a $350,000 ticket sales goal. "Blue
Suede Shoes" isn't finished. A national tour is in the works with
bookings expected in several cities as early as the 1997-98 season.
One of those possible cities is Memphis.
20th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death will be commemorated there
next year. The production has been called a show business mix of "the best of Broadway, the best of dance, and the best of rock and
roll." It will play here again next April, then go to the new opera
house in Detroit and then to the Ballet's second home in San Jose,
in the year, of course, Cleveland Ballet marked its 20 years of
dance history with a big anniversary gala. Just before the Cleveland
Ballet egg was finally hatched in 1976, Plain Dealer dance critic
Wilma Salisbury wrote, "...already the image of the company-to-be
is beginning to take shape.
the Cleveland company will not be an esoteric ensemble devoted exclusively
to one style of dance. Rather, it will be a repertory company: young,
eclectic, and popular." "Blue Suede Shoes" certainly is proof that
it is that.