Long Live the King
Chris MacDonald continues his reign as the nation’s premier Elvis tribute artist
Over the past two decades, Chris MacDonald has been pelted with G-strings, thong panties, a jeweled bustier and other assorted unmentionables. He’s had soccer moms rush the stage and rip open his leather jacket and 80-year-old women grab his behind. But despite the hazards of honoring Elvis Presley for a living, the Broward native admits that it’s still good to be the King.
“Every night I go on that stage, I have the greatest time of my life,” says MacDonald, who performs “Memories of Elvis” shows from coast to coast throughout the year. “From the beginning, I’ve viewed this as a gift.”
It’s a gift that the one-time football star at Coral Springs High School treats with great respect—especially given that, in the early 1990s, he was cutting grass for a living. But on a fateful Halloween night, he dressed as Presley and caught the eye of a celebrity lip-syncing performer. It turned out that MacDonald could do more than curl his lip and swivel his hips; his rich baritone naturally aligned with Elvis’ unique sound. By 1998, his days running a lawn maintenance business were history.
On the eve of his annual South Florida performance to commemorate Elvis’ death (Aug. 16, 1977), the only tribute artist hired by Elvis Presley Enterprises to perform at Graceland’s Heartbreak Hotel reflects on his unexpected career.
A little less conversation: “You see some guys who sound like they have marbles in their mouths when they’re talking to you like Elvis. … I put a lot of me in the tribute. If I don’t feel comfortable doing certain movements or vocal stuff that’s too over the top, I won’t do it. This is a natural show. It’s not a hokey impersonation.”
Welcome to my world: “It’s humbling that fans enjoy the show enough to come up and tell me their story. One man brought me photos that he took with Elvis in Germany; he was in the military with him. That’s what it’s all about—sharing memories of Elvis.”
That’s all right: “I was doing a sound check in Memphis and singing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love.’ This nicely dressed older lady walks up and asks if I was lip-syncing. I told her no, that we were doing a show later that night. She goes, ‘That’s incredible—and I should know. I was Elvis’ [mother-in-law].’ It was Priscilla Presley’s mom. Pretty cool.”
Memories of Elvis
When: Aug. 13, 8 p.m.
Where: Parker Playhouse, Fort Lauderdale
What: Chris MacDonald, joined by his eight-piece concert band and backup singers, delivers the ultimate Elvis tribute with songs (and costume changes) spanning the significant eras of the King’s career.
Tickets: $27 to $45
Contact: parkerplayhouse.com; 954.462.0222