Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wrapping Up Vegas Trip

Got a bit distracted with other things there and never finished up Vegas.  The highlight of our family trip to Vegas was seeing a show -- my parents went to see Bette Midler and they sent me, my sister, and my brother-in-law to see "Love."  (Happy Birthday to me!)

Now, what with the movie of "Mamma Mia!" being out, you're probably all familiar with what theatre folks call the "Jukebox musical."  There have been a lot of them lately.  It's what happens when someone decides to take a whole bunch of songs associated with a performer or group and strings them together with a vague semblance of a plot.  Usually plot isn't really its strongest suit (reference "Mamma Mia!" here) -- it's just a lot of fun watching those songs performed live and in a new context.  "Movin' Out," for instance, was a dance musical (choreographed by Twyla Tharp) with everyone dancing to the music of Billy Joel.

And then there's Cirque du Soleil, which is all about awesome circus acts, loosely strung together with some semblance of a plot, which isn't always the easiest thing to follow, and original music.

And then someone -- and when I say someone, I mean George Harrison and Guy Laliberte (one of Cirque's founders) -- got the brilliant idea that Cirque du Soleil ought to do a jukebox musical to Beatles music.  And it truly is a brilliant idea.  I mean, Cirque's shows are generally jukebox musical-y to begin with, but to make one with music of any well-known pop act -- not to mention what is arguably the, y'know, best pop act ever -- is ideal.

(And I imagine someone over at Cirque du Soleil has been dreaming about doing a number to the surrealistic circus song, "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" for, like, ever.)

And they did it right.  The show is actually a co-production of Cirque du Soleil and the Beatles' Apple Corps. (which is itself owned by the surviving Beatles and the estates of the others).  Which means everyone signed off on this, and that Cirque got access to the original Abbey Road Studios recording tapes.  So while they were using pre-recorded Beatles vocals, they were able to re-orchestrate and mix to get the perfect recordings for their circus acts.  (Produced by George Martin, no less.)

And in the circus department, the Cirque folks are at their usual levels of awesome here.  Aerialacts, amazing quarter pipe skaters, and high energy trampoline work are all in evidence -- as well as dance, a giant silk parachute, and (yes) mega soap bubbles. 

It's all ... sort of ... in service of a ... sort of ... plot that loosely follows British history during the Beatles years.  (
Yes!  We've finally got a Cirque du Soleil show that isn't based on some oddball mythological journey.)  But, as with most jukebox musicals, the overall plot doesn't really matter.  What we've got going on here is really just a bunch of visual interpretations of each of the Beatles' songs.  Think of it more as a set of live music videos. 

Live music videos with amazing circus acrobatics.

Live music videos of awesomely remixed Beatles tunes with amazing circus acrobatics.

Yeah.  It's Beatles/Theatre Geek Heaven.

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