Judging the Ultimate Elvis Contest at Bally’s was a challenge and tons of fun
I’d always meant to check out the Ultimate Elvis preliminary contest that has taken place in Atlantic City the last few years. This year not only did I attend the event, I was asked to be a judge for the contest, sponsored by On Stage Touring, the Legends in Concert production company officially licensed by Elvis Presley Enterprises to do the contest.
The winner receives a $1500 cash prize and a Graceland getaway prize package, and qualifies for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest presented by EPE in Memphis, during “The 35th Anniversary Elvis Week,” August 10-18.
Listening to the Elvis channel on my Sirius XM radio to bone up on the best of the King, once I arrived at the Legends in Concert Theater at Bally’s I found myself thinking a lot about my late friend Ted Prior, a terrific local Elvis tribute artist who passed away last May. I tried to honestly evaluate the performers on stage for how much they sounded like Elvis.
An enthusiastic audience packed with friends and families of the performers cheered as each performer sang in their classic Vegas jumpsuits and presented the stage mannerisms of the King.
Watching this mix of amateurs and professionals made me appreciate even more the tribute artists who are good enough to play Elvis in the various Legends in Concert shows around the country, including the excellent Kevin Mills, who is the King in the current Legends in Concert show at Bally’s.
Also from the Bally’s show, Art Vargas, who does a tribute to Bobby Darin in the current show, was the emcee for the night.
Joined by fellow judges CJ Brando, who plays Adele in the Legends’ show, and Mark Kogan, who toured with Elvis in 1976 and is currently with Legends in Concert in marketing and promotions, the Elvis parade began.
While most of the performers were rockin’ the classic jumpsuit, very few actually sounded like Elvis Presley. Some had fine singing voices, but they didn’t pass the “close your eyes and listen” test. Others did a fine job with the mannerisms but didn’t have the singing chops.
After hearing 14 performers, we came up with the three performers who did the best job of blending style and singing, Marcel Forestieri (who, by the way, has played Jay Leno in Legends), Jim Barone and Andy Svrcek.
When the final votes were tallied, the winner was … Jim Barone, who did a terrific job with the Elvis mannerisms, but also had the voice that sounded the most like Elvis. Forestieri was the runner-up and Svrcek was third.
Hey Ted, I think you would have approved of our choice.
The new holiday edition of Legends at Bally’s features a strong group of tribute artists.
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Legends in Concert has been a mainstay in Las Vegas and Atlantic City for decades. One of the prominent reasons for its continued success is the show’s constant search for talented new performers. Over at Bally’s Legend in Concert Theater, the show just refreshed itself with a new cast May 25 and it represents a diverse spectrum of the music industry.
Plus MBCA scholarships and upcoming events, Drew Toonz, and the Album of the Week.
Atlantic City, which hosted its first Legends show in 1985 at Bally’s (a long run ended in Oct. 31, 2005), plus return stops at Resorts and the Hilton, is back in town at Bally’s Palace Theater with a run through Sept. 4.
The Wrecking Crüe
Laughing with George Lopez
Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall