London Elvis Musical Jailhouse Rock Opens on April 19

News   London Elvis Musical Jailhouse Rock Opens on April 19
The new London show, Jailhouse Rock—The Musical, based on the 1957 Elvis Presley film, will open April 19. It began performances at the Piccadilly Theatre March 26.
Mario Kombou in Jailhouse Rock
Mario Kombou in Jailhouse Rock Photo by Jonathan Alver

The show has already played in Plymouth and Manchester. It's directed by Rob Bettinson, who also co-wrote it with Alan Janes.

The show contain 22 songs, some made famous by The King, some by his rock and roll contemporaries. Titles include “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Burning Love,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” “A Fool Such As I,” “One Night,” “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” "Big Rock Candy Mountain,” “This Ole House,” “Always On My Mind,” “The Wonder of You,” "Memphis Tennessee,” “Tutti Frutti” and eight others.

A theatrical row recently erupted between legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and the producers of the show. Leiber and Stoller made a statement, complaining that their song "Jailhouse Rock" is not, in fact, in the show.

The musical's producers, Alan Janes and Jonathan Alver, fired back that "the history of rock and roll goes far beyond one song — no matter how good Leiber and Stoller think their title is" and emphasized that the story is being used "to explore the origins of rock and roll." They add that "the original film contained just seven songs, most of which have been ignored by history and would not stand up in a West End production."

According to the statement, the producers did try to get the rights for the song "Jailhouse Rock" but were rebuffed. "Elvis Presley Enterprises, Leiber and Stoller's publishers, were approached repeatedly by us to grant a license for the song . . . and they repeatedly declined on the basis that they were creating their own Elvis compilation musical," says the statement. "We cannot imagine why they would now want to complain about their title not being in our show as they refused our repeated approaches." *

Elvis is a hot theatrical commodity lately. Goodspeed Musicals will present All Shook Up in spring 2004. Lead producer Jonathan Pollard and partner producers Clear Channel Entertainment and Miramax are aiming the show for a 2005 Broadway berth. Joe DiPietro (The Thing About Men, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) will pen the book of the original show, which does not have Elvis as a character. Some 20 songs made famous by Elvis will reportedly be heard, including "Heartbreak Hotel," "Burning Love," "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender,"  "Don't Be Cruel" and "All Shook Up."

Additionally, Immortal Entertainment is developing a new musical based on the relationship and eventual marriage between Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu. Immortal's president, David Codikow, told Variety, "[Elvis and Priscilla] lived their lives as a musical, and now we hope to bring it to the stage. The story is as much about Elvis and Priscilla's romance as it is about the landscape of popular culture evolving before, during and after their relationship." Because the rights to most of Elvis Presley's songs are unavailable, the Immortal project will include other music of the period. The entertainment company also plans to launch an international search to find actors suitable to portray both Presleys, who divorced in 1973.

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