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Godo to Be King

A hunka hunka burnin' concert pays tribute to Elvis.

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Growing up in a small Pennsylvania coal-mining town, Shawn Klush saw his future in a spangled white jumpsuit. “Music has always been a love of mine,” says the star of tonight’s Elvis Birthday Tribute at Playhouse Square. “Then my mom and dad made me that costume.”

Things haven’t been the same since. As one of the nation’s top Elvis impersonators, Klush has spent the past few years curling his lips and shaking his hips in front of rapt audiences. His career officially launched 10 years ago, when he snagged top honors at the Worldwide Elvis Competition in Montreal. “It just chose me,” he says.

Tonight, Klush and a bunch of Elvis-related performers -- including fellow impersonators Donny Edwards and Matt Lewis, longtime Presley backup singers the Sweet Inspirations, and Elvis’ drummer D.J. Fontana -- pay homage to the King of Rock and Roll on the eve of what would have been his 72nd birthday.

The show covers all aspects of Elvis’ career -- from the sexy young rocker who recorded at Sun to the chart-topping pop idol to the fat guy who did karate kicks onstage. Each impersonator honors a specific era. Klush -- who played a young Presley in the 1999 TV movie Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story -- pays tribute to the post-comeback Elvis of the early '70s, when the white jumpsuited King devoured grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches on a daily basis.

But Klush finds perfection in Elvis’ latter Vegas phase. “It was the most polished period for him,” he says. “It’s very hard to get that sound in this tech-oriented world -- that big band, rock and roll sound. I want to treat the music right. The guy was a human being, and I try to do it as true as I can. You have to live up to something.”
Sun., Jan. 7, 7 p.m.

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