Elvis Presley surprised his fans and the world by releasing a Christmas album in 1957, as just his third full album on RCA Records. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been such a shock. Elvis eventually became renowned as both a devout Christian and a devoted, if sometimes absent, father and family man. 

Unsurprisingly, considering his status as the world’s first worldwide rock star, the album quickly became a number one hit and forever linked Presley’s unmistakable baritone to the Christmas season.

Steve Michaels brings that baritone back to life at the Flato Markham Theatre for Wonderful World of Christmas: Graceland Edition on Dec. 21 at 8 p.m.

Elvis’ performances were always much more than just his singing. Between an incredible touring band and his uniquely charismatic stage presence, ranging from frenetic to solemn, audiences became enthralled. Those that saw him live told the story of seeing him for decades after Elvis left the building.

A native of Milton, Ontario, Steve Michaels saw Aloha from Hawaii, Elvis’ record-breaking, 1973 television concert, at an early age and his life was changed forever. By high school, he was winning lip-sync contests as Elvis and it wasn’t long before he was serving food and drinks as Elvis at the local Jack Astor’s.

Soon after, he entered the impersonation contest at the world-famous Collingwood Elvis Festival. Almost as soon as he got off the stage, real offers to portray the King around the province started rolling in. His future as the world’s foremost modern Elvis was set when he won the prestigious Images of the King World Championship in Memphis.

“Twenty-plus years later, Steve travels the globe as Elvis,” explains his longtime friend and manager, Mark Erwin. “He is widely recognized as the foremost Elvis tribute artist in the world.”

With the Christmas show, Michaels gets a chance to delve into a more introspective and even jovial side of Presley’s music. With an audience expecting Blue Christmas, Silent Night, Here Comes Santa Claus, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Merry Christmas Baby, Michaels will be digging deep to conjure Presley’s well-known passion for the holidays.

“It’s not just his uncanny resemblance,” says Erwin. “His voice, moves and every nuance in his repertoire makes Michael’s a dead ringer and will have you doing a double take.”

The Christmas show in Markham comes on the heels of Michaels performing nearly non-stop for the past year. This year’s schedule kicked off with four months in the UK playing to rave reviews in This is Elvis and was followed by an extensive tour of An American Trilogy, a tribute three separate eras of the King.

Throughout his career, Michaels has written, directed and performed in more than a dozen unique shows as Elvis to more than a million audience members.

“Steve has put together the most unique and fluid concerts that showcase each decade that Elvis performed,” said Erwin. “The style, costumes and even the change in voice is captured.”

Elvis only performed five times over three nights in Canada, twice in Toronto and Vancouver, and once in Ottawa. All of those shows were in 1957, so Canadian fans never got to experience the more developed Elvis performances of his later career. With Michael’s performance, audiences can get as close as possible to the real thing.

“Those in Markham who have not seen Steve before will unequivocally believe they just saw Elvis,” says Erwin.

Visit www.markhamtheatre.ca for more details.