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Shake, rock and roll with 'The Ultimate Elvis' next week

Even Graceland employees have mistaken photos of Elvis impersonator Justin Shandor for the King himself, Tammy Makram reports. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON — He might be nothin’ but a hound dog rock ‘n roller, but fans of superior Elvis Presley impersonator Justin Shandor love him all the way down to the tips of his blue suede shoes.

“When Justin was on the David Letterman Show last year (Feb. 6, 2013), David ran out shouting, ‘Wonderful! Wonderful! Do it again!’ when he was done singing,” commented Tammy Makram, manager of the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center (MAPAC).

“That’s a real testament to how he is far and above other Elvis shows.”

Makram is thrilled Shandor is bringing his “Ultimate Elvis” act to Worthington next Friday night, in part because it will be Shandor’s sole scheduled appearance in the Midwest during 2014.

“Last year he performed at Jackpot Junction in Morton, and he was so popular they had to add a second show — and both were sell-outs,” said Makram.

“The show he’s been doing at Harrah’s in Las Vegas is the one he’ll be doing here, and he’s not scheduled to be anyplace else in the Midwest but Worthington this year.”

Reportedly, Shandor is not only a dead ringer for Elvis, appearance-wise, but he also nails other distinctive characteristics of “The King.”

“He has an amazing voice, but he also has all the mannerisms and moves of Elvis,” said Makram. “Once, Justin actually got a call from Graceland in response to an ad for one of his upcoming concerts telling him to stop using Elvis’ picture as advertising.

“He told them to take a closer look at it — and it was Justin, complete with a wireless microphone, technology that didn’t exist in Elvis’ time,” she added. “That’s how much he looks like Elvis.”

Makram mentioned that musicians who actually performed with Elvis have seen Shandor in action and “couldn’t believe he wasn’t Elvis,” Makram noted.

According to his online biography, Shandor has been taking gigs as an Elvis impersonator since he was 16 years old. He’s traveled the world, singing Elvis’ tunes, having sung in England, Australia, Malaysia, Canada and Scandinavia, among other places.

In August 2010, he was awarded first prize in “The World’s Ultimate Elvis” competition, sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises of Memphis, Tenn., thus earning himself the right to be billed accordingly.

“There are a lot of Elvis impersonators around,” acknowledged Makram, “but most of them are not endorsed by Graceland.”

The first half of Shandor’s “The Ultimate Elvis” show features Presley’s 1950s-era music, while the second half focuses more on music from the King’s later performance years.

“You get two shows for the price of one, and he travels with a six-piece band and back-up singers,” said Makram.

Besides having the chance to bask in the royal glow of rock ‘n roll for an evening, Makram points out that audience members are invited to arrive up to an hour prior to the 7:30 p.m. curtain time to enjoy live music in the MAPAC atrium, along with perhaps a liquid refreshment.

“Hickory Lodge will be there with wine and beer, and we really encourage people to come for the social time in advance of the show,” said Makram. “We’re following in the footsteps of places like the Washington Pavilion and want people to come with friends, listen to the music, enjoy our beautiful building and get warmed up for the show.”

Special VIP seats are also available for this event, and they include a private meet-and-greet with Shandor.

“We’re kicking things off with the King,” confirmed Makram.

Justin Shandor, “The Ultimate Elvis,” performs Friday, July 11, at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington. All seats are reserved, with a discounted price for advance purchase of tickets; VIP seats are also available, plus reduced price tickets for children and students with a college ID. Call 507-376-9101, visit the box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, or go to for more information.