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Austin Butler: From Broadway's 'Iceman Cometh' to Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis'
Last Edit: WaymanWong 01:35 pm EDT 06/26/22
Posted by: WaymanWong 01:14 pm EDT 06/26/22

In the midst of considering whom to cast as the King in his ''Elvis'' biopic, Baz Luhrmann says he got a surprise phone call from Denzel Washington. The Tony winner and two-time Oscar recipient was singing the praises of Austin Butler. Washington had starred in the 2018 Tony-nominated revival of Eugene O'Neill's ''The Iceman Cometh,'' and Butler had made his Broadway debut in it, as Don Parritt. Luhrmann says Washington told him: '‘I’ve just worked with this guy on stage. I’ve never seen a work ethic like it.’' On the heels of that recommendation, Luhrmann would cast the young man as Presley, and now the movie's just opened to raves and Oscar buzz for Butler's stunning star-is-born tour de force.

Just out of curiosity, I searched ibdb.com to see if Presley ever played Broadway. And the answer is no. But in 1978, Rick Saucedo, a Presley tribute artist, did his show, ''Elvis: The Legend Lives!,'' and he played for over 100 performances at the Palace Theatre. Nearly four decades later, ''All Shook Up'' (2005), a joyous jukebox musical featuring the Elvis song catalog, played over 200 performances, also at the Palace. Cheyenne Jackson portrayed Chad, an Elvis-inspired, hip-swiveling hero, and received a Theatre World Award for his brilliant Broadway debut.

Elsewhere, ''Smokey Joe's Cafe'' (1995), the Tony-nominated revue of Leiber and Stoller songs, featured ''Hound Dog.'' And ''Rock N' Roll: The First 5,000 Years'' (1982), a revue, included ''Hound Dog,'' as well as ''Heartbreak Hotel'' and ''Love Me Tender.'' ... Any other Elvis ties to Broadway?

(P.S. Robert Wise reportedly wanted to cast Elvis as Tony in the 1961 movie of ''West Side Story.'' What a different ''Story'' that would've been!)
Link IndieWire.com: 'Elvis': How Denzel Washington Convinced Baz Luhrmann to Cast Austin Butler in 'Elvis'
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