The Times West Virginian

August 2, 2012

Elvis impersonator performs Saturday

By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Nearly 35 years ago, the man from the “Heartbreak Hotel” left the building.

August marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, and Hilda and Don Obusek want to honor his legacy and memory by putting on a special show.

This Saturday the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse in Burgettstown, Pa., will open its venue to an Elvis impersonator as well as a Neil Diamond impersonator. Don Obusek will act as the Elvis impersonator, while guest Chris Denem will perform as Neil Diamond.

As owner of Celebrity Entertainment, Hilda Obusek books performers but didn’t have to look far to find the perfect Elvis impersonator.

Described as “The Best Elvis in Pittsburgh” by WQED’s On Q Magazine, Don Obusek has about 17 years of experience acting as Elvis. Performing in 19 states and even as far as Canada and the Bahamas, he has a knack for fitting into his role as the late rock ’n’ roll star. On a cruise in the Bahamas, Obusek appeared and performed with Kathy Westmoreland, Elvis’ lead female singer for seven years. Particular about who she is appearing with in a show, Westmoreland found something special in Obusek.

“She said that Elvis would have been proud of Don for keeping his memory and his magic alive,” Hilda Obusek said.

Both Don and Hilda want to bring a touch of that magic felt at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., to Pennsylvania.

“With the economy, people can’t get to Graceland like they used to do, so we just figured we’ll do something here locally for the people that want to celebrate Elvis,” Hilda Obusek said. “When you get a bunch of Elvis and Neil Diamond fans together, it’s just a real fun day.”

Tickets are $39, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to “Little Sisters of the Poor.” Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served from 5:30-8 p.m., and entertainment will kick off at 7:30 p.m. with Denem’s show. The Elvis show will start at 9 p.m.

Performing as Elvis, especially during this time, is an opportunity Don Obusek cherishes. And with it being the first time he has performed at the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse, he is even more thrilled.

“It’s an honor in itself just to be able to pay tribute to basically one of the original American idols,” Obusek said. “From what I hear, there’s not a bad seat in the house.”

Over the years, Obusek has made a name for himself at several events, including Pittsburgh’s “First Night New Year’s Eve Celebration,” The Regatta, several WTAE parades at Kennywood, Eat ’n Park’s 60th anniversary kickoff, and shows at the Mountaineer Casino.

And it all started when Obusek was in a band years ago.

“A couple of songs we sang were Elvis songs or Elvis-type songs, and people said, ‘You sound like Elvis,’” Obusek said.

From there, he entered a number of contests, winning several. A performance at his church festival where he donned the jumpsuit Elvis was known to wear ended up being the opportunity that sealed the deal for his reputation as an Elvis impersonator. He was booked at several shows following his performance.

For the most part, Obusek likes to mimic the 1970s era of Elvis with the jumpsuit, mixing in some of his earlier songs as well as music from the latter part of his career.

“I do the ’70s arrangement of it, so it’s a little bit different from what you’re used to hearing,” he said. “But if you’re an Elvis fan, definitely recognize it as a ’70s Elvis rendition of it.”

In just a few weeks, he will be taking his tour down to Graceland, performing in front of the rock ’n’ roll star’s mansion. Only a few Elvis impersonators in the world are selected to perform there.

“If you’re an Elvis fan, it’s something to experience,” Obusek said. “You almost have to experience it because you can’t even try and explain it to somebody. There’s 50,000 to 100,000 people there, and there’s no fights. There’s no arguments. They’re absolutely respectful and the midnight vigil you go to — it’s just amazing to see so many people gathered with so much respect.”

But if you can’t make it to Graceland, Hilda Obusek is encouraging people to check out what she feels will be a great show.

“If you have a burning love for Elvis, grab your blue suede shoes and your favorite Elvis T-shirt and head on up to the Pepsi Roadhouse,” she said. “It’s a show you won’t want to miss.” 

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