Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cirque du Soleil's Love takes audience on journey through The Beatles' history

If you've ever wanted to dive into the Octopus's Garden or meet a psychedelic Sgt. Pepper, the creators of Love, a new Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil performance, are offering a little help from their friends. The theatrical interpretation of some 130 songs and song fragments that debuts at The Mirage hotel-casino next month takes audiences through a dreamlike journey that tracks the Fab Four's career. In a sneak preview Wednesday, producers showed a glimpse of the journey, with aerial acrobats and dancers in extravagant costumes moving to such songs as Octopus's Garden, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and Lady Madonna. Show concept creator Dominic Champagne called the show "a rock 'n' roll poem" that doesn't feature images of the Beatles but attempts through dance and imagery to interpret the lyrics of their songs. "We dreamed how would we treat Eleanor Rigby? How would we treat Sgt. Pepper? How would we go into Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?" Champagne asked. "How would we please The Beatles' fans by doing a show with The Beatles, without The Beatles? And we decided to proceed by evocation." In Lucy, a female acrobat dangles from a looped trapeze while tiny firefly-like lights flash in mid-air. Lady Madonna features a group tap dancing and shuffling in yellow rain boots, while Octopus's Garden figuratively submerges the audience under water with human-sized jellyfish and squid dangling above the stage. The preview was not without glitches. Twice fire alarms sounded, interrupting the performance and bringing up the house lights. Despite the helter skelter, organizers said the show would come together by next week when preview performances begin. Concept creator Guy Laliberte, who began the project through a personal friendship with George Harrison, said many of the show visuals, just like The Beatles' lyrics, are open to interpretation. "We're just there to propose many doors of a journey to people and it's up to the public to decide what they want to live as an experience," he said. The show is the first major theatrical partnership for The Beatles' record label, Apple Corps Ltd., and Cirque du Soleil, a surrealist international circus troupe based in Montreal, Quebec, which performs four other shows on the Las Vegas Strip. The collaboration began in 2002 and resulted in the $130 million US reconstruction of The Mirage's Siegfried & Roy showroom into a 2,013-seat theatre in the round with more than 6,000 stereo speakers. In the early days of forming the show, original Beatles producer Sir George Martin and his son, Giles Martin, pored through hours of original and unheard tracks that had been archived at Abbey Road Studios. Many of the show's song treatments are subtle musical remixes that only a dedicated Beatles fan might discern. "It is a puzzle and people can try and figure it out. They won't," George Martin said. In one sequence, George Harrison's voice in Within You Without You plays seamlessly over the drums and bass of Tomorrow Never Knows. The opening of Good Night serves to introduce Octopus's Garden after a digital upshift from the key of D to E. "The whole idea behind what we did with the music was to try and make people listen again as opposed to taking the songs for granted," Giles Martin said. "We wanted it to be like a performance again for The Beatles, and not just playing CDs."


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