Best Bets: Alverson pays tribute to Elton John in Smyrna

Lee Alverson will bring his One Man, One Piano, One Night show as Elton John to the Smyrna Opera House Saturday night at 7:30. (Submitted photo)

With both a musical and theatrical background, Lee Alverson looked on the internet one day back in 2000 to see just how many Elton John impersonators there were.

“There were so many Elvis impersonators. Thousands probably. But there were only two or three Elton impersonators,” he said.

And thus an enterprise that would take him around the world was born.

Mr. Alverson, who has performed as Mr. John about 3,000 times both nationally and internationally, will be at the Smyrna Opera House Saturday night with his One Man, One Piano, One Night show.

A professional musician since his college days in Pittsburgh, Mr. Alverson made his living doing clubs, weddings, corporate gigs and private parties.

In 1996, he recorded his debut original album “Matter of Time,” which was released nationally. That gave him the opportunity to open for such acts as Barry Manilow, The Beach Boys, John Denver and The Four Tops.

Leaning on more of his theatrical training, he then developed a “Phantom of the Opera” tribute show called “Broadway Fantasy,” which he took all across the country.

“In 2000, I was looking to combine the elements of performing and music with theatrics and I thought about impersonating Elton John. I knew all of his music after singing cover tunes all of those years,” Mr. Alverson said.

“I’d always admired Elton for his showmanship and of course his music is tremendous.”

After he found that his idea had not been widely copied, he set out to make a website and “throw my hat in the ring.”

Almost instantly, he went from a few gigs to playing around the world.

“It snowballed very fast. I was getting calls to perform at international and corporate events. I couldn’t believe it. I was used to playing places in New York, Philly and Pittsburgh and opening up for other bands and the next thing you know, I’m in L.A., Las Vegas, Florida, Chicago, you name it,” he said.

The show comes complete with Mr. Alverson wearing replicas of some of the outrageous outfits that Mr. John has worn over the years.

“I’ve had quite a few made for me. There is a guy in Thailand who I have sent photos of costumes to and he sends whole outfits back with my measurements. Every now and again, I’ll find things in stores that look like what he would wear. But otherwise it’s pretty hard to find those type of things in your average store,” he said.

One of the things he likes about performing as Mr. John is the fact that his style is so much different than the legendary entertainer.

“Elton is the furthest thing from my actual personality. I’m a very reserved artist who likes to just sit and compose music,” Mr. Alverson said.

“Being Elton gives you liberation to do whatever the heck you want. Things you wouldn’t be able to do normally. It’s been amazing.”

He says doing the tribute act has helped his own performing style.

“I think it’s done a lot subconsciously for me. He really is the greatest teacher on how to command the audience. I had to learn his mannerisms but once I got that down, I really connected with the audience.”

He has performed extensively in Las Vegas hotels over the years and in places such as The Versace Mansion in Miami, The Liberace Mansion in Las Vegas, The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and The Liberty Theater on Broadway.

“I was actually the only artist invited to stay the night at Liberace’s mansion after he passed away. So that was a thrill,” he said.

He’s also been featured in advertising campaigns for such brands as Pepsi, Coca-Cola and T-Mobile.

With a career that spans more than 50 years, Mr. John has been a reliable figure for Mr. Alverson to portray.

“Everybody knows who Elton John is. He’s like Paul McCartney. What a wonderful legacy. I see young people in the audience as well as people in their 70s,” he said.

“It continues to be a popular act. I focus on the musicianship and the showmanship when I honor Elton.”

Saturday’s performance in Smyrna will be an intimate one with just him and the piano with no backing musicians. It’s a show that Mr. Alverson loves to perform.

“I find it more popular than the ones I do with a full band. You can really do more with the music. It’s patterned after Elton’s solo performances,” he said.

“You don’t have to sing songs strictly as the record had it. Instead of a four-minute ‘Rocket Man’ performance, you can do an eight-minute version and focus on the musicality.

“I have more room to do what I want and change up the setlist. If it seems like they want another fast one instead of a ballad, I’ll do a fast one. It’s also fun to get the audience more involved and do a sing-a-long. It’s just such a joy to be able do this.”

Tickets for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. show are $20 general admission; $16 for Smyrna Opera House members, senior citizens 65 years and older and military; and $10 for children 12 and under.

To purchase tickets, visit SmyrnaOperaHouse.org,, call 653-4236 or stop by the box office at 7 W. South St.

Senior Spree Friday

The Senior Spree ~ The Connection to Active Adult Living! is Friday at Noble’s Pond from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the The Point Clubhouse in Dover.

This event is designed to offer active seniors an array of activities to get involved in, including shopping at a variety of vendors offering on-site sales, plus a selection of personalized services/resources and demonstrations.

There will also be a variety of demonstrations, both informational, as well as interactive.

“It’s not just the variety of vendors that people are interested in, but also the demos,” said Bailey Williams, Delmarva events coordinator for the Delaware State News.

“From seeing the Modern Maturity Center’s Steppin’ Seniors, to learning how to arrange flowers to the anticipation for the cooking demonstrations by Roma Italian Ristorante, Lion Meals for Health & Fitness and An Affair to Remember Catering, the excitement is great.”

Attendees can meet with vendors, have some lunch from The Oriental House and Top Five BBQ food trucks and enjoy the demonstrations scheduled throughout the day.

The Modern Maturity Center’s Steppin’ Seniors are returning to the Senior Spree — The Connection to Active Adult Living! — taking place at Noble’s Pond Friday as part of an event designed to offer active older adults an array of activities, demonstrations and information. The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the “The Point” Clubhouse in Dover.

The Potpourri Garden Club will be demonstrating floral arranging and tips on how to keep your arrangements fresh. There will be yoga from the Dover YMCA, plus Zumba and line dancing by Ida Poindexter Kirkendoll. J. Rena Styling Salon will also share hair care tips.

More than 40 vendors will offer a variety of goods and services for everything from the latest makeup trends and hair styles, vacation planning, eye wear, home care, financial, health services, home decorating and more. You can even test drive a new car from Willis Chevrolet.

View the entire list of vendors on the event website www.DelmarvaEvents.net or view the official program on the Delaware State News website delawarestatenews.net under “Special Sections.”

As part of the event, Noble’s Pond will offer guided home tours of their 55-plus community.

There will also be giveaway items and door prizes awarded throughout the day.

Admission is free. The event is presented by the Delaware State News in partnership with Noble’s Pond. You can find more information and regular event updates on the Delaware State News Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/DelawareStateNews/events.

Beer, Wine and Spirits Fest

In its 10th year, the Delaware Beer, Wine and Spirits Festival will be held at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village on U.S. 134 in Dover on Saturday from 2:30 until 7:30 p.m.

The event features beer, wine and spirits tastings, meet the brewer opportunities, a mechanical bull, food trucks, live music, outdoor games, special exhibits, and guided tours of the Agricultural Museum. The event will also spotlight the Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail.

Musical entertainment features Lyric Drive, Blue Cat Blues and Indian River.

General admission tickets are $40. This ticket includes unlimited tastings and a souvenir cup. There is also a designated driver ticket available for $15.

Other features of the event include free parking, vendor village and festival games. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

For more information, visit https://www.debeerwinespirits.com.

Hippiefest Saturday

Hippiefest, a first of its kind in Milford, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock at Causey Mansion, 2 Causey Ave, Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.

Unlike the Roaring 20s Party held by the Milford Museum in May, Hippiefest will be held farther back on the grounds at Causey Mansion, allowing for more room in their grassy backyard.

Lincoln City and Cool 101.3-FM disc jockey Dana McDonald will take turns playing music from the 1960s and 1970s. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket and/or beach chair, and their best “hippie” outfits to join in the fun.

Barbecue-style food, beer, wines and sodas is included in the $25 per person price.

“We brought the price down. A lot of younger people have said they can’t afford $55, but $25 is what they would spend going out to dinner for one night, only we happen to also have all this stuff going on,” Milford Museum Executive Director Claudia Leister said.

Funds raised from will help keep the museum running. Ms. Leister said the museum is considering an expansion but will need considerable funds to make that happen.

The museum has also changed up several exhibits recently to keep something new in front of the public.

“I had this two o’clock in the morning aha moment and decided just because this is how things always were before me doesn’t mean this is how it should be or has to be,” she said.

A doll exhibit, which has been on display for decades, has been removed to make room for a new exhibit. The ladybug display from the front of the museum was placed in the room where the dolls once lived. A new, smaller exhibit of 1920s toys now occupies a space near the museum office.

“The toys stir memories and bring a connection to people who come in. If you go away learning one thing, we’ve been successful,” Ms. Leister said. “People are still coming in to see the Made in Milford exhibit. This is the second year and it’s a lot of research and time. I do it all myself — the dry matting, cutting, researching … I do want to put our things on display. I don’t want people to think they give us things and it sits in the basement.”

For more information, visit www.milforddemuseum.org.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the action-adventure film “Angel Has Fallen,” the drama “Overcomer” and the horror-comedy “Ready or Not.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated sequel “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.”

Staff writer Jennifer Antonik contributed to this column.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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