I have very mixed feelings about a forthcoming "live theater production" at the Mirage in Las Vegas by Cirque du Soleil featuring Beatles music. I mean building a Vegas show around Celine Dion is one thing, or musicals around Billy Joel or ABBA songs, but can a bunch of painted, French-Canadian circus freaks do the Beatles' legacy justice? I fear a trivialization of the most important body of popular music of the 20th century, or at least the second half of the 20th century.
Can you turn an era's most profoundly touching music into spectacle without crushing it? I have haunting visions of a nightmare film called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which almost killed several careers and is a blight upon the culture.
With deep concerns firmly in place, here is what the principals have to say for themselves:
- Cirque du Soleil, Apple Corps Ltd. and The Mirage announce a partnership in which they will celebrate the musical legacy and extraordinary experience of The Beatles in an unprecedented live theatre production opening in 2006. This joint artistic venture marks the first time that The Beatles’ company, Apple Corps, has agreed to a major theatrical partnership.
The production will be Cirque du Soleil’s fifth resident show in Las Vegas and will be presented at The Mirage, the resort that changed the face of Las Vegas when it opened in 1989.
The project was born out of a personal friendship and professional admiration between the late George Harrison and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. "This show is about living The Beatles experience," said Guy Laliberté. "We want to bring the magic of Cirque du Soleil together with the spirit and passion behind the most beloved rock band of all time to create a single, simple statement of delight."
Neil Aspinall, Managing Director of Apple Corps, said, "In the past The Beatles have been approached with theatrical proposals which never promised much beyond a traditional presentation. However, in Cirque du Soleil, Apple is fortunate to have found a creative partner with the same passion for innovation and excellence."