Monday, April 10, 2006

Beatles will release new album to mark opening of Las Vegas extravaganza

An album by the Beatles featuring "completely new music" is in production and will be released to coincide with the first authorised theatrical show of the group's work. After decades of wariness about how to handle their hit legacy on stage, a summer opening in Las Vegas is planned for the extravaganza, with the acrobats of the Cirque du Soleil interpreting the songs.Neil Aspinall, the head of Apple Corps, the Beatles' record label, said the show was an ambitious project with "a huge investment". "It involves the creation, by the re-mixing and re-mastering of the Beatles' recorded performances, of completely new music, which will be featured in the show, and which should lead to the release of the show album." The producers will have the pick of the Beatles' catalogue, which has long been protected. Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the surviving members of the group, are helping to shape the production, but will not appear on stage. Sir George Martin, the producer of the Beatles' records, is overseeing the music. He said that after spending "40 years of my life" working with the Beatles, he was thrilled to be involved in what he imagined would be "a unique and magical experience".However, care is being taken not to make the show a nostalgic run through of the band's number ones, but to reflect their "uniqueness" as a rock phenomenon. The project was initially the idea of George Harrison two years before his death from cancer in 2001. He met Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque, at a party and, after an impromptu rock jam, they became friends. Harrison then saw the Cirque show "O", and became excited about a joint stage production. Laliberte, originally a fire-breathing street performer, said that the Beatles "did with words what we do with images". In the theatre he wanted to mix the magic of his acrobats with the "spirit and passion" of the band to create a "single statement of delight".
The 90-minute show, at the Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip, will be a homecoming of sorts. The band was paid £15,000, with no percentage of the gross, for their last visit, during their 1964 US tour. They performed twice at the Las Vegas convention centre, on a bill with The Righteous Brothers and Jackie De Shannon.Now, their music is back, with the production set for a casino with a volcano that belches fire every 15 minutes after dark. But Apple Corps, formed in 1968 to manage the creative affairs of the band, is keen to avoid tackiness.The company has long refused offers of stage productions. However, this deal was considered too good an opportunity to pass up, with punters willing to pay £143 per ticket for a show.The producers will have access to unreleased archival material, including 200 hours of recorded conversations between the Beatles in the recording studio.Mamma Mia, based on the songs of Abba, is already playing in Las Vegas, as is the Queen musical, We Will Rock You.


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