‘Spirit of the King’ debuts in Palm Springs

The growth of Palm Springs as a gambling destination has been very impressive, and now we’re starting to see premium shows there as well that remind us of the glory days of Las Vegas. Veteran Las Vegas performer Steve Connolly will reprise his award-winning role as the legendary Elvis Presley in the stage production of “Spirit of the King” in the Cascade Lounge of the Spa Resort Casino. The show kicked off on Wednesday and a red carpet premiere is scheduled for next week on the 27th and Bullz-Eye.com’s Paul Miller will be on location to cover the festivities. Paul took the photos above of the Marilyn Monroe impersonator who joins Connolly on stage for the show.

Veteran producer Dennis Levinson is bringing the show to Palm Springs, and he brings years of experience working with a wide variety of performers, including Johnny Cash, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Mickey Gilley, Jose Feliciano, Sam Kinison, Starship, Air Supply, B.J. Thomas, The Mamas & The Papas, Marshal Tucker, Gallagher, Wayne Newton, Eddie Fisher, and Rita Rudner.

“Connolly takes his considerable skills as a recording artist, composer, writer, TV personality, musician, singer, humorist, and fine artist, to craft a totally unique show,” explains Dennis Levinson, producer of Spirit of the King. “The new show will focus on the glory days of 1960 when Elvis lived in Palm Springs. Connolly has always wanted to create a special show for Palm Springs, and this is the central theme of ‘Spirit of the King.’”

Dubbed “The hardest working KING in show biz,” Steve Connolly has performed as Elvis Presley more than 4,000 times in his career. He remains the only entertainer depicting Elvis to be chosen by the Las Vegas Review Journal’s staff as “Best Elvis in Las Vegas” in 2006 and 2007. Connolly also devotes a small portion of his 75-minute performance to creating a speed-painted ‘portrait of the King’ which is then sold to the highest bidder at the end of the show. Check out the video below for a preview.

Located just over an hour from Los Angeles, Palm Springs has been a popular destination spot for decades. But with the growth of the casinos and now regular entertainment like this show, it’s becoming a real alternative for many who don’t want the much longer drive to Vegas.

Show times for “Spirit of the King” are Saturday-Wednesday nightly at 6:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets for this unforgettable performance start at $35 and are available at the show website or by calling 800-585-3737.

  

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Gary Lockwood (“The Lieutenant,” “Star Trek”)

Your frame of reference to the name “Gary Lockwood” depends heavily on what genres of TV and movies you tend to favor. For instance, if you’re a sci-fi guy like myself, then your instant reaction to hearing his name is either to think of “2001: A Space Odyssey” or, if you’re really geeky (and – shocker! – I am), to his lone episode of the original “Star Trek” series, where he played Gary Mitchell, Jim Kirk’s Starfleet Academy pal who failed to remember that with great power comes great responsibility and suffered the consequences. That one-off “Trek” appearance was actually Lockwood’s second time working with Gene Roddenberry, however, the first time having taken place a few years earlier when Lockwood starred in the short-lived series “The Lieutenant,” which has just been released on DVD by Warner Archive. Lockwood took a few minutes to chat with Bullz-Eye about his work with Roddenberry on both series, and he also touched on occasions in his career when he crossed paths with the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, and Elvis Presley.

Bullz-Eye: “The Lieutenant” wasn’t the last time you worked with Gene Roddenberry, but was it the first time you crossed paths with him?

Gary Lockwood: Yes, it was. They talked to me about doing this show, and Roddenberry was sitting there with the head of television at MGM, and that’s how I met him.

BE: That was your first time headlining a series, although, you’d at least had a little experience as a recurring character on “Follow the Sun.”

GL: Yeah, well, I was the third banana on “Follow the Sun,” but I ended up doing the most shows. It’s hard to talk about yourself, but…it’s not that difficult. [Laughs.] What I mean to say is that the audience ended up liking my character, so I did most of the episodes of the show.

BE: There’s a quote attributed to you about how being the star of a series is like being a jet pilot: you’ve got a lot of experts working behind the scenes to get the jet running, and then the pilot sits in the cockpit and makes it work.

GL: Yeah, at which point you either live or die. [Laughs.] You get the spoils, but you also get the losses. The reason I kind of make a joke about jet pilots is that you go to work and you don’t do anything, you just sit there in a chair and drink coffee and look at girls. And then they call you, and go over and fly in front of a camera for awhile, and then you sit down for awhile while everyone else does all the work. So I kind of thought it was a little bit like being a jet pilot.

BE: When you think back to the character of Lt. Bill Rice, what’s the first thing that leaps to mind?

GL: Well, I just played him. I mean, I was just an actor. Bill Rice is not somebody I would ever be or… [Trails off.] They did ask me once if I wanted to go to Annapolis, but I was a bit too much of a rogue for that kind of life. One of my best friends did go to Annapolis, but he resigned after about a year. He didn’t like the regiment. So it takes a certain kind of guy. It was very difficult for me to consider. I wouldn’t say I wanted to be like Bill Rice, but acting is all making believe, so you create a character and you just go there and play him. I think I’ve done that with every job I’ve ever had.

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