Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Viva Las Vegas (pt 1)

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the brand new Elvis: The Experience exhibit and show at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas which is the same hotel that Elvis used to perform at between 1969-1976. I'm lucky enough to be a part of the Elvis Insiders club which allows members special access to events like this one, as well as discounts on Elvis merchandise and to Graceland in Memphis, TN. This event was to be extra special because there would be a red carpet event and Elvis' family and close friends would be in attendance. I knew I had to get myself out there and am so glad that I did!

The exhibit is over 28,000 square feet and includes many of Elvis' privately own cars, worn clothing from films as well as some of his famous jumpsuits from the 1970s, and other personal artifacts. There are beautiful large-scale photos of Elvis covering all of the walls around the space, and the exhibit is in chronological order from the beginning of his life, all the way up to when he performed in this hotel in Vegas beginning in 1969 which is helpful to those who don't know a whole lot about him and want to know more. It's a beautifully crafted space and it is very exciting to have a mini Graceland exhibit right there in Vegas! They also show you a 26 minute movie about his life in a small theater that is attached. Before we were taken on the tour, we were introduced to Angie Marchese, who basically has the coolest job in the world - she's the head of archives at Graceland. She gave us a personal tour of all of the artifacts and was there to answer any questions we had. Before the tour, Priscilla came into the room as a surprise guest, and guys, I almost lost it. This woman has lead such an incredible life, and has done SO much to preserve Elvis' legacy. Without her, no one would be able to tour Elvis' home, or even attend this exhibit I went to last week. I was so humbled by her presence and she was as gracious and lovely as I had imagined her to be. If only I had been able to meet her, but I'm sure she could tell that us Elvis Insiders felt grateful for her contributions and that was enough for me.

There is also a brand new wedding chapel located across from the exhibit which unfortunately I did not get the chance to see, but I've seen pictures and it looks like a little mini Graceland inside. So cute. The first couple to get married there were married that morning and Priscilla was the matron of honor.

{The Exhibit}

When the exhibit ended, I followed a few new friends I'd made to where the red carpet was being held before the show. We decided to forgo that to find our seats in the theater, and as it turned out I was front row center! Of course, I was so excited and could hardly contain it! Elvis: The Show starred Martin Fontaine as Elvis, and he was backed by 14 musicians and eight choir members portraying the original members of his band. I really felt like I was back in time because these musicians were totally decked out in 1970s clothes and wigs, and what made the show so special was that it was in the exact same theater that Elvis had performed in back in the day. There were photos of Elvis and the Presley family in the background during the show, which was moving and I admit to shedding a few tears. Before Martin and the band took the stage, the Presley family entered the room, and the whole crowd of people cheered and snapped many photos. I wasn't close enough to see much, but wow - what a beautiful family. It was a pretty cool thing to be in the same room as them. I felt extremely lucky. When the show started, we were treated to a little film with clips of Elvis playing from his 1970 documentary That's The Way It Is, showing him getting ready to enter the stage as fans were collecting in the showroom, just like us! And then the music started and Martin came out!

{The Show}
Being front row at an Elvis show is always a fun experience. One thing that some people might not know about Elvis as a performer is that he was very interactive with his audiences - he would give them his silk scarves, kiss them, crack jokes and was even known to sign a few autographs if he had some time. Martin chose to walk out into the audience to greet us during "Love Me Tender", and the ladies were freaking out. I couldn't stop laughing. So fun! I didn't get a chance to snag a scarf this time, but I enjoyed him shaking my hand. I couldn't even imagine what I had done if that was actually Elvis.

After the show ended, I was so exhausted that I called it a day and headed back to my room at The Mirage, where I crashed for the night. I always feel a little out of place at these Elvis events because of my age (I was born 8 years after he passed away, so I never got to see him live), but I always manage to meet the sweetest people who I have a great time with and keep in touch with, and I love their personal stories of how they came to love Elvis, and if they got to meet him. I can't wait to go back to Vegas to experience the event all over again and to bring my friends and family. Martin's show will be here for just a short 5 weeks, and then a new show will start in the theater. This is a permanent exhibit and show.

For tickets and more info for Elvis: The Experience- click here

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