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The Elvis Experience

Branson, Missouri
June 10, 2011

The Elvis Experience, Branson, MO

Betty from St Louis, Missouri This is Betty from St Louis, Missouri and in the past five years, she has traveled to see The Elvis Experience 170 times. Her fantasies are torn between Tony Roi the singer and Elvis the entertainer he recreates so generously.

Yes, it’s true, we went to Branson last Friday night, bought our tickets and sat 7 rows back center orchestra to see Tony Roi put on a two hour Elvis Show that, I am embarrassed to confess, gave me the old thrill again. I loved it!

I get it, I finally get it! These mass Elvis events are for people like me. In the 50s, my parents would never even entertain the idea of my going to a concert by the subversive Elvis. (I was not even supposed to listen to him on the radio. I did, but lived in fear of being discovered... keeping the volume so low I could barely hear him.) How I longed to see him, watch him, and hear him in person. (The Wertheimer Collection of Young Elvis Photographs)

The summer of 1956, traveling with my family, I feigned cramps to get out of going to see a Marie Wilson/Ken Murray live casino show. I’m glad I did. For even then, I recognized cheek bones and swamp eyes when I saw them. The motel manager let me sit in his office and watch Elvis (sadly from the waist up) on the Steve Allen Show on his tiny black and white TV. (...and now, here it is on YouTube)

Anyway. Time went by. I finished school, got married, had children worked, Elvis died, I married again, my children had children...

The Elvis Experience, Branson, MO

...and then a couple of days ago, as Bernie and I began to travel back east, I realized we would be going through Branson, Missouri. Branson. THE place where all the great impersonators are.


Booked tickets, felt like a dope, dug a little black dress out of our tiny camper closet and headed off for dinner and THE SHOW.

The Elvis Experience, Barnson, MOThose of us over 70 were certainly in the crowd, but no one was overdressed or in trashy make-up. Some women brought Elvis/Tony bags of homemade cookies and he reciprocated with sweaty scarves. There were lots and lots of people in their 30s and 40s in the audience and about 20 teenagers screaming and singing along. (I just kinda mouthed the words from behind my camera)

We came away from the show feeling like we had seen the mature Elvis, that Tony Roi’s left profile is almost identical to Elvis’s, and that Tony (notice I now call him by his first name) can work the Elvis moves and voice to perfection. He also sang a few of his own songs to everyone’s delight.

The Elvis Experience, Branson, MO

In closing I would like to say that both Jesus and Elvis are alive and thriving in this part of the country. The two songs that got the greatest applause and the two full standing ovations were for the gospel hymn, “How Great Tho Art” and “An American Trilogy”.

We took a zillion pictures.

The show was at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater.

Huh? Is that Bernie with a new head of hair?


Loved it! You guys know how to live, I tell you!!!


I actually saw Elvis perform at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, I think it was 1957 or 1958.  I went with my friend Epp.  My mother hated Elvis too, but did not forbid my indulgences.  Smart woman, because by the time I was in my mid-twenties, my focus naturally shifted totally to classical, except for the Beatles. 


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