Leo Days: latest interpreter of Elvis’ hunk-a-hunk-a-love
Leo Days is the latest Elvis trouper, doing the hunk-a-hunk-a-love thing, in “Burn’n Love,” a tender but mostly energetic salute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Tripler Hospital-born Days, 34, is making this scorching summer hotter than hell, with his highly mobile Elvis Presley antics following John Hirokawa’s “Magic of Polynesia” spectacle at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort.
The spectacle had preview performances this week and opens publicly Monday.
Physically, Days is clearly depicting a younger Elvis; his voice, however, is higher than Elvis, and his is not a sound-alike act. And his crafty, bold moves are far more frenetic and fierce than EP’s. Thus, his is not an imitation or impersonation but rather an imaginative interpretation of the rock icon.
And yes, this is a must-see tribute.
The Las Vegas-style showroom, created for the magic show, is the perfect arena for Days’ physical romps on that large stage. Days features four sizzling musicians (bass, guitar, drums, synthesizer) and six agile and savvy dancers, who move and groove like him. And Shawna Masuda, who has an enviable list of Broadway musical creds here, is the solo voice factoring in the non-Elvis segments (and performing in higher-than-usual upper registers, unlike her theatrical norm) when Days is doffing and donning costumes off stage.
Overall, it’s a major, marvelous maneuver of voices productions, and rock-a-hula package tracking Elvis’ enduring popularity with emphasis on his Hawaii ties.
Instead of traipsing onto the stage, Days descends from the mini-lift transporter from the ceiling, wearing a red studded Elvis jumpsuit, performing “C.C. Rider” as his first number. The evening becomes both a recap of Elvis’ discography and a fashion show, since Days changes into a myriad of costumes: gold lame jacket for a parade of classics like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,“ “Love Me Tender,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel;” for “Jailhouse Rock,” it’s black-and-white prison-striped shirt, with black trousers, augmenting the look later with a pinstripe black and white jacket for “Hound Dog.”
For “G.I. Blues,” of course he sports Army khakis.
His moves are fierce and formidable, with leg shimmies and hip gyrations aplenty. Elvis might have been the original troubadour of the trembles; Days harbors more oomph and effort in his shenanigans.
And his corps of six wahine dancers keep pace with his smooth moves, also displaying a rainbow of costumes, from flashback dresses to “In the Mood” wartime military garb.
With Hawaii as an anchor, it’s a no-brainer that Days prominently performs “Blue Hawaii” tunes like “Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love With You.” In aloha shirt and white slacks, replicating Elvis’ look in the Hawaii-filmed classic, the showroom’s mountainous sets on both sides of the stage and cavernous central walkway provides the perfect frame for this Elvis moment.
And yes, “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is shared, without the requisite query about potential honeymooners in the house.
Days appears to be committed to the Elvis legacy of giving (Elvis helped raise key funds to launch the construction of the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor), so he is engaged in earmarking a portion of all his ticket sales to the Aloha United Way organization.
Just when you wonder when the traditional studded white suit and cape — a handsome creation with gold-trimmed hip belt, and flared bell-bottoms with hidden red accents— might appear, it does in the show’s final segment, recreating the “Aloha From Hawaii” concert via “Suspicious Minds,” “American Trilogy,” and capped with the iconic “Space Odyssey” film melody, aka “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”
Alas, a wow factor was missing for the wind up — perhaps an overhaul and booster shot is needed for the grand finale.
Days earlier appeared in the “Legends” show across the street, so he’s familiar with Waikiki audiences, but this showcase should finally put him on the map.
While appealing and inventive, with screen glimpses of Elvis in the past with the postcrips of his love affair with Hawaii, the show is not without some minor issues.
The volume was overpowering in the opening moments, with bass and drums on full throttle, diminishing the vocals; some monitoring and tweaks would vastly improve the over-all impact.
And a rah-rah factor is sorely missing in the aforementioned finale.
Clearly, Days is a certified Elvis fan, doing the Elvis shtick since he was 15; in 2009 placed in the top five at Elvis Presley Enterprise’s Ultimate Elvis Contest in Memphis.
In “Burn’n Love,” Days as Elvis projects the humility and grace of the idol and he’s done his homework and honed his craft.
He makes the show rock!
When: 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; seating from 8 p.m.
Where: Magic of Polynesia Showroom, Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort
Tickets: From $69; kamaaina and military discounts available through July and August; IDs required; with meet-and-greet packages also available
Reservations: 971-4321, www.BurnnLove.com/Waikiki.