The spark that ignited LOVE, the new Cirque du Soleil/Beatles musical at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was a meeting between the late George Harrison and Guy Laliberte, the principal founder of Cirque du Soleil.
Mutual appreciation led them to imagine the possibilities. From that point forward Harrison and his wife Olivia convinced Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono to allow Sir George Martin, his son Giles, and a brilliantly creative, handpicked Cirque team to marry the Beatles original music with the free-flowing physical forms and technological wonders of the Cirque du Soleil.
The result is a colorful time warp back to the60s and 70s starting with the adorable mini-skirted, bobby hat-wearing ticket-takers. Once inside the $100 million plus, 2,013 seat theater-in-the-round performers reminiscent of the good old, big paisley print hippie days add a touch of street flair and genuine nostalgia.
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band"
If you enjoyed the Beatles, LOVE may trigger a plethora of memories.
And, if you weren’t even born then, the show will give you a taste of what it felt like to live during an era when peace and love were setting social and fashion trends.
At the heart of the show is, of course, the Beatles music. Sir George Martin, often called the fifth Beatle, and his son Giles spent two years with hundreds of hours of original studio tapes. Senior Martin explains: “One of the challenges of the job was getting the balance of the songs right. We wanted to make sure there are enough good, solid hit songs in the show, but we don’t want it to be a catalog of ‘best of’s'. We also wanted to put in some interesting and not well-known Beatles music and use fragments of songs.”
So you want a "Revolution"
Sir George and Giles remixed and textured overlays while maintaining the integrity of the original master tapes. "Eleanor Rigby" and "Father McKenzi", "Lady Madonna", and "Sgt. Pepper" spring to life. The boys of gritty wartime England grow up to become the youthful purveyors of "Revolution". John, Paul, George, and Ringo prove that the music they wrote, produced, and performed some forty years ago is as fresh, poignant, memorable, and exhilarating today as it was then.
Dominic Champagne, LOVE’s writer, director, and concept creator, traces the Beatles lives from childhood to the Ed Sullivan Show to Abbey Road and Saville Row; to their spiritual awakenings and their untimely break-up. There are moving tributes along the way to John Lennon and George Harrison.
"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"
Through the magic of video technology — there are ten 12,000-lumen projectors for each of the two huge 2,000 square-foot panoramic screens — the theater is transformed into their original Abbey Road recording studio. The audience becomes a fly on the wall, watching larger-than-life silhouettes of the Fab Four while listening to conversations captured between takes. If you are a Beatles fan, this segment will take your breath away.
Sound designer Jonathan Deans has created eight sound system zones that provide viewers with 360-degree surround sound. Jean Rabasse’s theater and set design allows for large, spectacular numbers while achieving a sense of intimacy. His greatest challenge was to allow for seamless transitions between scenes with complex decors, nine lifts, eight automated tracks and trolleys that can simultaneously move 24 props, performers, and set elements. By integrating all of these elements into his theatrical design the audience is constantly looking from one performer or vignette to another. It’s busy, some might argue, too busy, but there are no blank spots.
“The challenge with lighting LOVE, “explains lighting designer Yves Aucoin, “was to focus the spectators’ attention on one highlight or one artist specifically on this in-the-round stage”. He recreated the warmth and magic of the psychedelic era with "Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds", turning the ceiling into a star-filled night with thousands of tiny twinkling lights. "Blackbird" stands out as performance art — comedy that takes a familiar song and opens it up to a completely new interpretation. The lighting is exceptional, definitely directing the audience attention.
"Here Comes The Sun"
The costumes by Philippe Guillotel and make-up by Nathalie Gagne add just the right amount of fantasy and drama to the piece. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Something in the Way She Moves" are two of the numbers that highlight dancers. There are aerialists, dancers, and skateboard daredevils; a first rate cast has been gathered from every corner of the globe — America, Canada, France, Argentina, Brazil, Romania, England, South Africa, Denmark, and more. It was refreshing to watch Cirque’s more theatrical approach to this production. Less human circus, more music and dancing.
Guy Laliberte and his partners are known for encouraging risk taking. New ideas, new technology, new performers — and whether you agree with everything they’ve done or not, you will still appreciate 90 minutes of original Beatles music as it has been interpreted by the Cirque du Soleil.
LOVE plays at the Mirage Thursday through Monday, 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $69 to $150.
For reservations go to www.mirage.com or call 702-792-7777 or 1-800-963-9634.
— Feature by Linda Lane, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.