Legends in Concert 2024 – Theatre Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There are many music artists that I wish I had the opportunity to see live. Sadly, some of these artists are either no longer touring, were before my time, or have passed long ago. Legends In Concert offers an opportunity to experience the next best thing.

Celebrating 40 years of tribute performances and impersonations, Legends In Concert is a live music experience comprised of several of the world’s best impersonators as they put on a live concert extravaganza. After attending Legends in Concert in 2023, I was excited to return. I had a lot of fun last time and I was curious to see what this new production had in store for us.

The 2024 line-up sees the return of Stephen Sorrentino as Elton John and Bill Cherry as Elvis. Rounding out the seven performers is Stacey Whitton Summers as Shania Twain, Jason Morey as Jon Bon Jovi, Fernando Castro as Freddie Mercury, Annika Strander Weaver as Cher and Janae Longo as Adele. Backing up these legends is the seven-piece Legends Band, led my musical director and ace guitarist, George Safire. There are also eight talented dancers that accompany each performance throughout the show.

Opening the evening’s entertainment was Stephen Sorrentino as Elton John. After not being entirely impressed by his performance last time, it was evidently clear that Sorrentino has refined his performance and portrayal of the legendary singer. Sitting down at a grand piano, Sorrentino belted out fantastic covers of ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Crocodile Rock’, even involving the audience to sing the iconic hook.

Other covers included ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’. Sorrentino’s vocals were brilliant, and the impersonation of Elton John was fantastic, complete with a sparkly suit and props. Sorrentino was easily one of the main highlights of the evening.

Stacey Whitton Summers as Shania Twain was up next. With the stage empty, Summers emerged from the darkness to walk through The Palms audience, interacting with patrons as she slowly made her way to the stage while singing ‘You’re Still the One’. With other iconic tracks such as, ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!’ and ‘From This Moment On’ and more, Summers sounded exactly like Shania Twain. Even more, she’s got the looks and amazing outfit to match. Fantastic with her crowd work, Summers took a moment to talk to a lovely couple in the front row and congratulated them for being married for 60 years. Summers is a perfect Shania Twain impersonator.

Next on the bill was a performance that completely surprised me, in the best way possible. Jason Morey as Jon Bon Jovi is a living re-incarnation of the legend himself. Dressed in a classic leather jacket, iconic Jovi blonde mullet and sunglasses, Morey had the look down pat. Then, Morey began to sing and I was completely blown away by his rock vocals, ripping into the opening cover ‘It’s My Life’, quickly followed up by ‘Runaway’.

Morey absolutely commanded The Palms stage, using every inch possible as he worked the crowd. Morey also worked with the band extremely well, interacting with the band members and almost making me forget that we were at a Legends in Concert show and not at a Jon Bon Jovi concert. With other tracks such as ‘Shot Through The Heart’, ‘Bad Medicine’ and ‘Living On A Prayer’, Morey made everything look so easy and is clearly a seasoned live performer with the vocal chops to match.

Following on from the interval was Janae Longo as Adele. Thus far in the show, the vocal performances of each of the impersonators had resembled the sound of actual legends themselves. Longo does indeed have an amazing voice but it is more of a rock vibe. Unfortunately, she doesn’t sound like Adele at all. Longo certainly looks like Adele and whilst speaking, she does sounds like her. However, the laugh she has taken on to mimic the star appears more of a parody than an impersonation, bordering on a comedy act. I am by no way discounting Longo’s vocals; she can sing superbly, but I was not sold by her portrayal of the music superstar.

Having experienced Lisa McClowry as Cher last year, I was curious to see how Annika Starander Weaver would embody the legendary performer. Weaver entered the stage complete with the long flowing black curly hair and black sparkly, sheer iconic bodysuit. Performing hits such as ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, joking afterwards that the song is timeless, and ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)’.

Weaver’s incredible vocals impressively sounded just like the legend herself. She even has the body language down pat! Not only is Weaver a great impersonator but was also fantastic with the crowd. Braving the audience to select one lucky guy to sing the iconic duet, ‘I Got You Babe’, little did Weaver know that her choice would be a little cheeky and a little handsy. But her professionalism shone through, handling it with grace. Certainly, a memorable moment from the whole show.

The two major highlights of the entire 2024 Legends in Concert would be the performances and representations of Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury portrayed by Bill Cherry and Fernando Castro respectively.

At first, I was hesitant when I saw Fernando Castro enter the stage as Freddie Mercury, proudly and confidently prancing around while hyping up the crowd. But then, Castro hit some incredible vocal notes and was able to hold them for a super-human amount of time. Even at one point, jokingly looking at his wrist as if to check the time for how long he held the note for. Castro’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury was one of the best impersonations I have seen. Not just of the Legends concert, but in general.

Castro effortlessly performed iconic Queen numbers including ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and many more. The highlight, however, would have to be the iconic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Castro gathered the dancers and backup singers in the middle of the stage to replicate the famous image from the film clip, complete with the lighting to match. Castro is most certainly an almost flawless representation of the legend that is Freddie Mercury, and what a gift is his portrayal to allow audiences the opportunity to see this music legend who is no longer with is.

Finally, the icing on the cake of the whole production, Bill Cherry as Elvis Presley. Not only did he steal the show back in 2023, but he also stole the show this time around too! Dressed in a stunning white, shimmering suit complete with the hair, tan and looks to match, Cherry is Elvis. He even walked around the stage handing out silk scarves to lucky concert goers at the front of the stage, much like Elvis used to do way back when.

Cherry’s body movements, stances and mannerisms are an exact replica of the imagery I have seen of the legend himself. Not only does Cherry have the persona locked away, but he also has the vocals and speaking voice to match. Performing several of Elvis’ extensive catalogue, including ‘See See Rider’, ‘Burning Love’, ‘In The Ghetto’ and ‘Suspicious Minds’, Cherry’s performance as Elvis Presley is well worth the wait.

Legends in Concert is more than just a night of covers, it is an experience that is only enhanced by the live band and troupe of incredibly talented dancers, alongside some excellent choreography. The lighting is amazing, and the sound mix is just as good.

It is safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my return to Legends in Concert in 2024, and I hope this production becomes a yearly occurrence (if not already), because I cannot wait to go back.

Legends in Concert is performing now at Melbourne’s The Palms at Crown until January 28, 2024.
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Photography supplied.

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