Theatre review: Elvis is my Daddy, Everyman, Cork

***

This musical comedy is about an ageing cabaret singer, a former mega star on the Las Vegas entertainment scene, making her comeback after 40 years away from the stage. Eilish O’Carroll, best known as the dowdy Winnie McGoogan in Mrs Brown’s Boys, is transformed into a glamour pot that is well able to hold a note in the role of Lana Lavelle.

Her two daughters, the shy awkward Bette-Davis Lavelle (Elaine Hearty) and the brazen Lulabelle Lavelle (Clelia Murphy who plays Niamh Brennan in Fair City) join their mother in a club where family tensions rise to the surface. The daughters don’t know who their fathers are. Bette-Davis hopes that Elvis Presley, with whom it’s rumoured her mother had a dalliance, is her father. She reveals her great singing voice and performs a fine rendition of Janis Ian’s ‘At Seventeen’, identifying with the plain girl in the song, unlike her sister who is beautiful if somewhat ugly inside.

The real star of the show is Jumbo Johnson in whose club Lana is trying to relive her glory days. Played to full comic effect by Mark O’Regan, Jumbo is an old ham, full of bluster and showbiz pizzazz, attempting to recreate the heady days of Lana Lavelle, who played with the Rat Pack and was the inspiration for a Frank Sinatra song. O’Regan’s portrayal of an impresario past his prime, is bang on. He has moments of sentimentality and holds a torch for Lana. But for the most part, this is an outwardly tough guy who is trying very hard to drum up a bit of hype for the show he is hosting.

There is desperation at the root of Lana’s attempt at resurrecting her career. She is basically broke with the tax man on her back. But there is only a fleeting reference to this. Greater emphasis on the back story would make for a darker and more interesting show.

Instead, the show, written by John Murphy, is mostly frothy with memorable musical moments such as Lulabelle’s rousing rendition of ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’.

  • Final performance tonight


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