Elvis and Dick (Bear Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Elvis and Dick

Elvis and Dick is a fun, musical imagining of what transpired between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon during their historic Oval Office meeting in December 1970, when Elvis expressed his interest in becoming a federal agent at large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The show is playing at Tarragon Mainspace as part of the 2014 Toronto Fringe Festival.

The performance is bookended by Nixon’s personal secretary, who supplies the historical context for the meeting and a timeline of its aftermath. The staged meeting is a conversation between the two men about Elvis’s desire to infiltrate the American drug culture, and the protest (Communist) and women’s liberation movements. During these flights of fancy, the cast creates schlocky enactments of B-movies starring Elvis as the secret agent man who brings down the ring of criminals and malcontents and saves America from itself.

Elvis and Dick is well researched and full of historical references to satisfy my hunger for such things. Nixon is obsessed with wire-tapping and his adversaries, the Kennedys, John Lennon and the Smothers Brothers. Elvis is obsessed with the drug-addled Beatles and returning to a simpler time in America when he was still on top.

The performances are solid. Phi Bulani is theatrical and ostentatious as Elvis and his pelvis does good work, too. Kevin Jollimore’s Nixon is hunched and jowly and evokes so much sympathy I momentarily forgot what a wretched human being the former president was. The secondary characters deserve accolades as well, especially Allison Edwards-Crewe and Sarah McGowan who play the femmes fatales in the special agent trilogy.

There is a live band onstage and the cast supports Bulani in the performance of classic Elvis songs. Burning Love, Blue Suede Shoes, Suspicious Minds and Jailhouse Rock are among the many songs performed. I was raised in the church of Elvis and I fully endorse all aspects of this presentation. The opening night audience members who threw their underwear onstage during the curtain call do too, I’d wager.

Elvis and Dick is a light and enjoyable musical performance that will satisfy any Elvis fan and history nerd. It fills the full 90 minutes so I recommend budgeting extra time between the show’s finale and your next engagement. You might also want to bring an extra set of undergarments to throw, just in case.


Elvis and Dick plays at the Tarragon Mainstage. (30 Bridgman Ave.)

Show times
July 03 at 08:15 PM
July 04 at 03:00 PM
July 06 at 04:45 PM
July 08 at 10:30 PM
July 09 at 12:00 PM
July 10 at 07:30 PM
July 12 at 04:00 PM

Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online  by phone (416-966-1062), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West). Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.

 To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.

Photo of Kevin Jollimore and Phi Bulani by Social Image