THE BEATLES LOVE
At the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas
ALL YOU NEED…AND MORE
It is a tribute to, in this writer’s opinion, the best rock group that ever was, and The Beatles Love, as interpreted by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, is also a show that may never have happened without the late George Harrison. It was he who insisted on putting Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono (on behalf of the late John Lennon) together with Guy Laliberte, who created not only the innovative Montreal circus that has taken Sin City by storm, but The Beatles Love, along with the rest of the Cirque brain trust, Dominic Champagne and Gilles St.-Croix.
Add to this heady mixture of talent the ingenious sound innovations of Beatles’ producer and engineer George Martin, whose remixes were aided by his son, Giles, and you have the makings of a show that dazzles, emotionally moves and sets the bar once again higher for Cirque du Soleil, which now moves into its second year of this production.
To really establish the scene, one must detail the theatre where Love is performed, a reconfigured space of 2000-plus seats, increased in size from its former Siegfried-and-Roy days. As sound designer Jonathan Deans explained to me after the show, there are more than 6000 speakers throughout the space, including three in each seat. The show requires a crew of 90, which is no surprise, considering the typical Cirque rigging for aerialists, plus four retractable video screens from above, two fixed video screens on each side, four separate theatre entrances for artists and properties and a hydraulic floor that raises and lowers for new sequences from below.
And right from the opening, the viewer is grabbed, as the mournfully beautiful “Eleanor Rigby” is powerfully accentuated by the sounds and sights of bombs pummeling England during World War Two. The performers wend their way through twisted, damaged musical instruments and gramophones, which resemble modern sculptural art. This sequence and a latter one, for “A Day in the Life,” are emotionally devastating. For as the string section builds at the end of that Beatles piece, cacophonously, the aerialist playing the mother of a child, who reaches out to her, dies and ascends to the top of the cavernous theatre and disappears.
By no means is Love generally a dramatic show. Among its delirious fun is an all-white staging for Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden,” with electric kites, parasols and confetti, choreographed in a wonderfully surreal, underwater fashion. One of the sections that is truly unique is the use of the Beatles’ voices with a video projection of their silhouettes caught in spotlights, as they attempt to “break out” of their pools of light, with perfectly synched sound effects.
The show does not attempt to create any insight into the personalities of The Beatles, nor really track their history. It is an artistic interpretation of their music. While one may quibble with some sections, like a tap dancing sequence that seems to have little bearing on the song “Lady Madonna,” Love is indubitably a sensory pleasure that does justice to the most remarkable innovators of rock music and circus performance.