In the desert gambling city of Las Vegas, the Canadian acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil today (June 30) opens its “Love” celebration of the musical legacy of the Beatles, marking the band’s first agreement to collaborate on a stage show.
During the performance, 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.
“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 are expected to attend tonight’s premiere along with Lennon’s sons Julian and Sean, his first wife Cynthia and Harrison’s son 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 worldwide Beatlemania.
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 color, 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 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.
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.
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