News: ‘GOSPEL SOUL OF ELVIS’ wows crowds in Mineola Texas | CitizenWire

The Gospel Soul of Elvis: Mark Rios, Mary Lee Gonzalez and Ben Tinsley

MINEOLA, Texas /CitizenWire/ -- Elvis Presley is a state of mind. Mark Rios would be the first person to tell you this. Rios is a lifelong fan of The King. But it wasn't until relatively recently that this North Texas actor and director was able to converge his acting and directing careers and dedicate them to exploring his long-standing dream of exploring Elvis Presley's spiritual side.

This dream came together in his new traveling play, "The Gospel Soul of Elvis."

After debuting in Dallas, Rios and crew performed the play at the oldest continuously operating theatre in Texas - the historic Lake Country Playhouse, 114 N. Johnson St in Mineola.

The cast included Rios, Mary Lee Gonzalez, Malik Johnson, Randy Burk, Dasiana Preston, Olivia Simms, Ben Tinsley, and J. Douglas Barker.

The show ran in Mineola for three days April 28-30 to much acclaim.

Neita Fran Ward, ART CONNECTION OF EAST TEXAS, said she really appreciated what the cast did with the performance.

"Every Elvis fan has heard the gospel songs Elvis loved and performed,' she said. "Mark Rios and his backup music group thoughtfully transported the audience back into the music and stories of The King of Rock and Roll with their performance in a relaxed and casual setting. Great voices and entertaining stories."

A friend and colleague of Rios, Victor Rjesnjansky ("Slick Vic" from the hit A&E TV series "Storage Wars Texas") was also impressed.

"Not being a huge fan of Elvis, this was a look into his life from a different venue - hanging out in his penthouse after the show with all his friends," Rjesnjansky said.

Rjesnjansky said it was educational to find out these things about Elvis. "I found myself riveted with interest during the whole show after speaking with creator Mark Rios," he said. "Mark informed me that every show is a little different with little tweaks here and there."

"Definitely worth the trip to see the show. I give it five stars," Rjesnjansky said.

Indeed, Rios has carried the idea for the show around for some time. But it was only in recent months that he transformed his idea into "full-on musical reality."

A lot of Mark's colleagues know him as a great local actor whose mobster show "A Family Thing," is really starting to catch fire on several venues.

But up until recently, not many heard Rios say a word about an Elvis show.

Ben Tinsley, Rios' assistant director and the actor who plays Col. Parker in the show, was initially quite surprised. "Mark called me one day, talking about a stage show with him playing Elvis, and I was like, 'Do WHAT?'" Tinsley said.

Tinsley, like Rjesnjansky, had never before experienced an Elvis-related show. But Tinsley knew a winner when he saw it. He said it was an honor to be asked to join the cast as Col. Parker.

"When I first saw Mark do Elvis during the show, I thought to myself, 'Whoa. He's NOT doing some silly Elvis charactature or impersonation. He's really digging deep.' I was astounded."

The Texas Theater presents The Gospel Soul of Elvis on Friday, August 18 2023 at 8 p.m., Texas Theater - Waxahachie, TX.

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