American Cabaret Theatre;directed by Carol Worcel & Kenny Shepard
Sharing writing, directing and choreography credits, Carol Worcel and Kenny Shepard get the blame for this shameless attempt to cash in on the 30th anniversary of the King’s death. Neither musical theater nor concert tribute, Heartbreak strings together 39 Elvis hits sung and “acted out” by eight characters living in a flophouse — emphasize flop. Early comic numbers “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Angel in Disguise,” sung by dweeb Desk Clerk (Tim Hunt) and sidekick Bellhop (John Phillips), offer hope that camp will save the night. However, with no dialogue or sensible story line, the inn mates are trapped in a series of hackneyed bits with childish blocking. Sad lover sings “She’s Not You” to a picture frame. Thief fondles stolen fur while crooning “In the Ghetto.” Newlyweds frolic to “Burnin’ Love” with all the sex appeal of My Little Pony. Forgetting that Elvis’ pelvis moved a generation to a trembling dance floor, Worcel and Shepard parse out the choreography in tiny, uninteresting morsels and two small ensemble numbers that hint at what might have been. With powerful singers like Deaon Smith and Amanda Lawson, plus pianist John Austin Butsch ripping into the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis, I could envision a heart-pounding musical with frenzied dancers on stage and off. I had plenty of time to think about it, bored as I was with the reality. Through Aug. 19; 317-631-0334.