For 20 years Steve Michaels has been paying tribute to his hero, Elvis Presley, and to this day, Michaels says he continues to learn. “It comes with studying, a lot of studying,” says Michaels, who is the star of Return to Grace, an Elvis tribute show coming to Calgary and Edmonton this month. “It also helps having a natural ability to hold a tune, rhythm and then to bear a resemblance to the character you're portraying.”
Return to Grace started in 2011 with a run of shows at Niagara Falls' Fallsview Casino Resort, then moved on to Toronto's majestic Ed Mirvish Theatre for a number of shows in 2014. This year, Michaels and an ensemble of about 30 singers, dancers and musicians will hit the stage in Calgary (Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, March 17-20), and Edmonton (Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, March 29-April 2). Return to Grace will feature some of the King's classics: Heartbreak Hotel, Suspicious Minds, Love me Tender and music from Presley's early days in Memphis, his 1968 Comeback Special, and the Aloha from Hawaii concert. Michaels got his start as a young boy growing up in Toronto. His mother was a big Elvis fan with an extensive collection of LPs. As a teenager in the 1980s, he says, his friends were listening to Huey Lewis and the News and Bryan Adams, but Michaels till couldn't get enough of the King. In 1996, Michaels performed as Elvis at the famous Collingwood Festival, the largest gathering of Elvis performers in Canada and one that attracts fans from all over the world. He was hooked.
About seven years ago, RGA Productions approached Michaels with an idea for a show. At that time, they were thinking three different performers would impersonate Elvis' many transformations. Michaels didn't love the idea: "Why would you want an audience to be distracted about having three guys playing the same guy?” he recalls saying. “For something like this, you want the audience to go along with the journey, you want one guy to perform the 50s, 60s, the 70s and the concert years, and you're looking at him. I'm your guy.” The show was an immediate hit, but Michaels says has seen an evolution in the audiences at his shows over the past 20 years. In the mid-90s, the crowds were mostly older fans who still cherished the Elvis years; but a 2002 Disney film, Lilo & Stitch, which features an Elvis-loving alien, introduced the King's music to a new generation. Now Michaels is seeing a cross-section of fans at his shows. "When it's time to get on the blue suede shoes and don the jacket and get ready for a cross Canada tour such as this, I'm back in the books, I'm back watching, studying. It doesn't stop. I immerse myself in doing it.”
More information is available at www.returntograce.ca