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Waxing Enthusiastic Over Tussaud's Rock 'n' Roll Circus : Nostalgia: Opened less than a year ago in London, the rock museum features robotic figures of rock stars sculpted in wax. Each exhibit is accompanied by music and comment.

August 04, 1990|JEFF KAYE

In the main room, a rotating, circular stage shows a very '70s Elton John performing "Bennie and the Jets," Little Richard singing "Tutti Frutti" and Stevie Wonder with "I Just Called to Say I Love You." All of a sudden--boom!--Elvis Presly pops up from the center and sings "Glory Hallelujah."

Many of the stars immortalized in wax posed for the Tussaud sculptors and donated personal items to make their display more realistic.

Tussaud's sculptor Stuart Williamson was one of the artists involved in capturing Eric Clapton. The guitarist came to the Tussaud studio several times to pose with his guitar. At one point he played an old blues number for the artists. "It was like a private concert for us," says an appreciative Williamson.

The sculptor went to Los Angeles to do Little Richard and to Frankfurt to get Sting, who was on tour. Johnny Rotten came into the Tussaud's studio several times and allowed the artists to make a cast of his rotten teeth.

After a tour through the wax figures, visitors are sent to the grand finale, the robot show. The performance begins and ends with the theme from "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," with Beatles replicas standing onstage looking like they were peeled from that album's cover.

In between Beatle numbers, a Madonna robot sings "Like a Virgin," Bruce Springsteen does "Born in the U.S.A." and Bob Dylan plays "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

The performance begs a question: Does the existence of a guitar-strumming Bob Dylan robot as a centerpiece to a multimillion dollar tourist attraction say something good, or something bad, about the evolution of rock 'n' roll?

The show ends and the Rock Circus visitors are sent into a gift shop where they find pictures of themselves with David Bowie.

There's no obligation to buy one, but most of them do.

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