Kings of Cool
5/18, 25, 8:30 p.m.
Shanty’s Beach Club (910) 233-3266
103 N. Lake Park Blvd.
$20 adv/$25 at door
The musical variety show was co-written by the Ohio-born Bruce Deveraux and Marc Matney who is originally from Kansas. Both of the natural-born entertainers have been cruising the Wilmington stand-up, theatre and music scene for well over a decade. “The script provides a foundation, but the show is very interactive and full of improvisation,” Deveraux—who plays Rat Pack star Dean Martin—says. “I have Italian roots and have been impersonating the stars forever, so it was wonderful to rise to the challenge of doing Dean Martin!”
Deveraux’s last project was founding Red Rum Mysteries, a theater company which focused on murder-mystery dinner shows. He and Matney have worked together on creative projects in the past and wanted to bring some theatrical magic to Carolina Beach for the summer. They looked south for inspiration. “Myrtle Beach has show after show, but there’s nothing on [Pleasure Island,]” Deveraux says.
Deveraux met the owner of Shanty’s Beach Club who was looking for a tribute show to perform at his venue which is situated right in the center of Carolina Beach. After he secured an atmospheric locale—complete with a slightly old-fashioned, stylish mien, with glitter balls, a wooden dance floor and a small, raised stage—the missing link was finding someone to play Marilyn. Twenty-five-year-old Amber Underwood will showcase a shiny platinum blonde wig and an innate talent for the stage. Born in New Mexico, Underwood moved to Wilmington six years ago to pursue her artistic career as a painter and singer.
“People were always saying to me, ‘You look so much like Marilyn Monroe!’ When my fiancée saw an advert for a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, he answered it without even telling me!” Underwood exclaims. “Then, everything just fell into place so easily; it feels like destiny.”
Underwood talks passionately about her love of Monroe as a figure who personifies both beauty and tragedy. The two traits walk a fine line together. “I had cancer at 22,” Underwood tells, “and so life has already taught to embrace the hard times. Marilyn lived a double life in many ways, so much sadness. Yet, she was always there for her public with big smiles and so much energy.”
Already in the band PWM, Underwood has developed her singing to match the infamous, breathy voice the screen legend is known for imbuing. Covering classics such as “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” Underwood will provide a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
For father-of-two, Marc Matney playing Elvis is almost like second nature after years of being an Elvis impersonator. “Elvis actually died on my birthday,” he says—“when I was out shopping for my first guitar as a kid.”
With a lifelong background in music, it was Matney who coached the trio along their musical journey to be able to perform these legendary stars. Donning a classic Elvis outfit, Matney belts out rock ‘n’ roll numbers with an uncanny resemblance and an obvious love of the King. “One of the best things about being Elvis is that you get all the love and affection people feel for him,” Matney says. “It’s wonderful!”
“These stars can withstand the test of time without a problem,” Deveraux adds. “Their music is so well-loved, generation after generation—the show appeals to young and old alike. We want to make people smile, and that’s just what ‘The Kings of Cool’ does!”
The show lasts an hour and a half, and the next performances will be on May 18th and the 25th at 8:30 p.m. Tickets can be bought in advance from Shanty’s Beach Club (910-233-3266) for $20 or at the door for $25.