Monday, July 03, 2006
Las Vegas (Reuters): Lucy swoops on a trapeze across a sky twinkling with diamonds, Mr Kite presides over a psychedelic circus of stiltwalkers and acrobats, and the unmistakable voices of John, Paul, George and Ringo fill the surround sound-equipped arena. With a little help from a lot of friends, The Beatles are brought back to life in a Cirque du Soleil spectacular that marks the band's first agreement to collaborate on a stage show. In the desert gambling city of Las Vegas, the Canadian acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil yesterday open its ''Love'' celebration of the musical legacy of The Beatles that was almost five years in the making.
''Love'' was born of a friendship between the late George Harrison and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte. It was blessed by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, supported by John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, and masterminded musically by legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin. McCartney, Starr, Yoko Ono, Martin and Harrison's widow Olivia were expected to attend last night's premiere along with Lennon's sons Julian and Sean, his first wife Cynthia and Harrison's children Blair and Dhani.
Played in a custom-built, 2,000-seat theater at the Mirage hotel, ''Love'' takes its audience on a part-chronological, part-fantasy journey through the life and times of the four young men from Liverpool who inspired a worldwide Beatlemania that continues 40 years after their first hit record. High-wire acrobats, break dancers, trampoline artists and skaters bring life to characters like Sgt Pepper, Lady Madonna and the sea world of Octopus's Garden in a visual feast of colour, light and adventure. Audio clips from decades-old Beatles recording sessions and interviews, photo montages and footage from their famed last concert on the rooftops of central London play in huge back projections.
But for avid Beatles fans, the real star of the show is the music - some 130 songs remixed, mashed up and born again with a clarity never heard before. ''We wanted to make sure there are enough good, solid hit songs in the show but we didn't want it to be a catalog of 'best ofs'. We also wanted to put in some interesting and not well-known Beatles music and use fragments of songs,'' said Sir George Martin. Martin, who worked on every Beatles album except ''Let It Be,'' and his son Giles Martin spent two years working from the original master tapes of The Beatles sessions to produce a 90- minute soundtrack that is played through six speakers in the back of each seat as well as a panoramic sound system.
McCartney's ''Yesterday'' feels so close you can hear the strings of his acoustic guitar snapping on the neck. ''Because,'' the show's spellbinding opener, features simply the band's harmony vocals interspersed with birdsong. Well-known songs like ''Revolution'' and ''Come Together'' are remixed with snippets from other Beatles hits while tracks like ''Get Back'' and ''Within you, Without You'' are intermingled. ''The last thing we wanted to create was a retrospective or a tribute show,'' said Giles Martin. McCartney, who has already seen the show in preview, and Starr were closely involved in the project as were Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono.
The idea of teaming up with Cirque du Soleil first came from Harrison before his death in 2001. It was pursued by his widow and got the go-ahead from Apple Corps Ltd, the English company that administers The Beatles' interests, in 2002.