By Burt Davis
Photos by Burt Davis or Dianne Davis unless otherwise noted
Elvis is Back in The Building at The Westgate
I grew up with Elvis Presley. During my teen years his voice was often on the radio as I drove my date home in my 1956 Chevy. One of my fondest memories of Old Vegas was seeing Elvis perform at The Las Vegas Hilton. So I looked forward to seeing what was happening at The Westgate Hotel and Casino at the the grand opening of “Graceland® Presents ELVIS™: The Exhibition - The Show - The Experience,” on April 23, 2015.
“Graceland® Presents ELVIS™: The Exhibition - The Show - The Experience,” s the cornerstone of Elvis’s return. The exhibition covers over 28,000 square feet in Westgate’s north wing and even includes a Graceland Wedding Chapel. The first wedding at the chapel was broadcast live on NBC’s Today show and Priscilla Presley was the Matron of Honor.
I enjoyed a leisurely walk through the exhibit which depicts the highlights of much of Elvis' life starting with his formative years in Tupelo, Mississippi. The exhibit contains such details as Elvis’s high school prom picture, his 1953 high school yearbook from Humes High School in Memphis, Tennessee, and his records from The Sun Record Company.
Life-sized pictures and events from his life are on the walls. There are numerous televisions playing scenes from his life. I especially enjoyed seeing the videos from his appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. It brought back a flood of memories of that era.
Two of the exhibits rooms featured some of Elvis’s costumes and scenes from his various movies and stage appearances. I had forgotten that Barbara Streisand opened for Elvis at his initial appearance at the old International Hotel on July 31, 1969.
I always felt that Vegas has two patron saints – Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Frank recently returned to the home of the old Sands Casino (now the Palazzo) played by Bob Anderson. Elvis returned to The Las Vegas Hilton played by Marin Fontaine.
Elvis The Experience is designed to duplicate the performances of Elvis back in the early 1970's when the casino was known as The Hilton. Having seen the original version, I can tell you that Fontaine was right on. He performs in front of a 24 piece orchestra and eight backup singers in the original theater. The huge screen behind the band continually depicts scenes from Elvis’s life and occasionally provides live audience shots. Yes, Elvis does kiss the screaming fans. Be aware, the show is scheduled to close on May 30 so get your tickets soon and travel back in time to the days when Elvis was The King of Rock 'n Roll.
If you like Elvis or just want to be entertained head to The Westgate Hotel and Casino.