Elvis imitator plays tribute

Sunday, August 23, 1998

BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Keeping eyes and ears open on the party circuit, Psst! has heard . . .

HE'S A HIT: We're going to need a round of applause this morning for Bruce Wilburn.

Wilburn, see, is fresh back from Memphis, where he was one of the headliners at Tribute to Elvis, an annual do on the anniversary of the Elvi's death (Aug. 16).

Wilburn, says friend and manager Donna Bashor, dresses like the early Elvis -- jeans, T-shirts, jackets -- sings like Elvis and has all the right moves.

So why not play the Tribute?

Indeed. He did it last Friday and Saturday in blistering Memphis heat and humidity (sounds like home, 'eh?) at Graceland Crossing, an Elvis oriented shopping center near Graceland.

And did plenty well, Bashor says. "People like him. I think because he's the early Elvis and he doesn't take himself so seriously. He just sings like Elvis, and that made the crowd wild."

So wild, she says, they scrambled for places in the Elvis Karaoke contest that followed.

For which he deserves one of these: ClapClapClap.

HE'S A WILD DANCER: Well great. It's his first performance in Cincinnati and what happens? He spends his night in the emergency room.

Referring here to Ronnie Marmo, who plays best man Barry Wheeler in Tony and Tina's Wedding, opening show on the Broadway Series' '98 season.

You know the story: It's a re-creation of an Italian wedding, complete with receiving line, dinner and whacko family running amok, dragging the audience in as if they were wedding guests rather than series patrons.

The cast gets wilder and wilder as the night wears on, even to the point of slam dancing.

Which is what Marmo was doing, apparently way too enthusiastically, when he crashed into another cast member and drove his teeth through his lip.

"Blood everywhere," says Broadway Series manager Van Ackerman. "We ended up spending the rest of the night in the emergency room at Bethesda Oak.

"But Ronnie's so cool. He made the best of a bad situation. He was back there flirting with something like 12 nurses. Next thing I know, he comes out and says he just sold 10 tickets to the show.

"Nasty way to sell tickets, but hey, it fills seats."

Tony and Tina is at Mitchell Ohio National Guard Armory, 4100 Reading Road, through Nov. 8.

IT'S A SHANIA TWAIN THANG: The truck, we mean.

People are talking about the 48-foot semi tooling around town for weeks with singer Shania Twain all over it. What gives?

Wellsir, says Ron Pille at WYGY-FM, it's collecting food for Kids Cafe, a division of FreeStore - FoodBank. Twain is heavily involved with such causes.

And since she's here Aug. 28, and since that's her birthday, 'YGY staffers decided to do something special for her: Food collection Tuesdays and Thursdays at nine Perkins locations around town in the Twain Truck.

Right, but where the heck does one buy a semi with Twain painted on two sides and the back?

"You don't," Pille says. "You go to Anything Airbrushed and have them do it. They can do anything."

Indeed. Anything is six artists who airbrush anything, including: A guy's artificial limb for a Jimmy Buffett concert; faces for Halloween; a John Deere lawn mower for the heck of it; dresses; helmets, usually with scary faces.

Psst! appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Have an item to report? Call Jim Knippenberg at 768-8513; fax: 768-8330.

KNIPPENBERG ARCHIVE