Q&A with Elvis Experience Star Martin Fontaine
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Q&A with Elvis Experience Star Martin Fontaine

For "Elvis Experience," actor Martin Fontaine makes a transformation from mere mortal to the King of Rock 'n' Roll.


Fontaine stars as Elvis in "Elvis Experience," which opened last week in the newly-renamed and newly-renovated Elvis Presley Theater at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. That's the same showroom in which Elvis performed hundreds of sold-out shows to millions of fans throughout his reign in Las Vegas. "Elvis Experience" re-creates one of Elvis' 1970s Vegas concerts, complete with a cast of 24 musicians and eight choir members who portray the original musicians who shared the stage with Elvis. "Elvis Experience" will return for its annual 10-week run in Quebec City, Canada, this July.


Learn more about Martin Fontaine, who stars as the man himself, Elvis Presley.

 


How long have you been portraying Elvis?

I started portraying him when I passed an audition, and then got the job, in 1995 to play the part in the show called "Elvis Story." I did it for 12 years.


What’s your favorite Elvis song?

"If I Can Dream"


For this role, you are a stage actor portraying Elvis Presley. Can you tell us what your process is for approaching this role?

I had to study every aspect of his life and career, and I still do it every day. I read everything that's been done about him. I watch videos and listen to music before going on stage. I try to think as he did, feel as he did when he was performing, try to get the right emotions from the inside out. And, of course, I use makeup to make this extreme transformation. No latex, only lights and shadows, with a wig and sideburns.


Tell us more about “Elvis Experience” – what can fans expect from this show?

We're taking the audience back in time, one night in 1972. It could be any night, to experience what it was like to attend an Elvis concert, exactly as he did them at that special time of his career, surrounded by musicians and artists on stage playing as his TCB Band, The Stamps, The Sweet Inspirations, Joe Guercio and his orchestra. 


This is an exact reproduction of one of Elvis’ Las Vegas concerts. Give us a sense of how the full cast and production team take this on.

All the members of the cast get into character, exactly as I do, using wigs and makeup to try to look as they person they portray. They get to play like them, sound like them, look like them, think and feel like them, to create the illusion that the audience is actually living out the experience of an Elvis show. We also use vintage instruments and accessories to add to the illusion.


Have the Las Vegas audiences been different than the Canadian audiences you’ve performed for?

Not really. We have a lot of people coming from France and Quebec, Canada, so we pretty much feel at home.


What’s it like to perform in the Elvis Presley Theater at the Westgate, the same showroom in which Elvis performed?

I feel very privileged to have the honor of performing on that stage. It's a dream come true. It's still hard for me to realize all that's happening for me right now. 


What’s your favorite part of the show?

To me, the coolest part is the freedom that allows me the concert formula, and to also be the art director of the show, and to get into a beautiful jumpsuit every night, and to be able to change it from one show to the other. Same thing with the choice of songs. I can change the set list as I please. The repertoire is so rich. The audience will never get the same show night after night. They can come back as often as they want and they will always find something different - just as Elvis did in those days on that very stage.


What do you hope Elvis fans take away from “Elvis Experience”?

I hope they will get the chance to feel a bit of the excitement of what it was like to attend an Elvis concert in 1972 - just the way it was.


"Elvis Experience" runs through May 30 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. Book your tickets to the show and the new ELVIS: The Exhibition now!

Posted by Elvis Presley's Graceland at 3:11 PM
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