The Beatles LOVE is certainly a thrill
The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil presents a series of surreal tableaus woven together like the songs in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As with the music from that album, there is so much happening onstage during some songs that it takes more than one viewing to absorb all the action and detail, while other songs are represented with graceful aerial choreography and dance. Characters such as Sgt. Pepper’s Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie, Mr. Kite and Pepper himself are brought to life, while Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” and the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine are comically realized.
Stripped to its essence, LOVE is the story of the four lads from Liverpool, who are introduced in silhouette forms on giant screens. The brief banter (using The Beatles’ actual voices culled from studio outtakes) gives way to a procession as cast members saunter onstage to the haunting harpsichord and soaring harmonies of “Because,” from Abbey Road. McCartney’s voice is heard next when the Beatles’ northwest England birthplace is depicted, in the midst of a World War II air raid, during “Eleanor Rigby.” With the city destroyed, the setting was ripe for a rock ’n’ roll-driven rebirth, driven by an exuberant “Twist and Shout” dance party.
The uptempo numbers continue with “Get Back” and “Drive My Car,” but as LOVE progresses each of the band members’ personality is more aesthetically represented. Several George Harrison songs are effectively interpreted through aerial artistry, as when acrobats swing within yards of lower-tier audience members during a haunting alternate version of “Something,” or fly close to a solar celestial object floating in the air above the stage during “Here Comes the Sun.” In one of the most stirring scenes, a dancer interacts with an animated line-figure partner during “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
John Lennon’s “Help,” meanwhile, provides the soundtrack to one of the most thrilling segments of LOVE when extreme in-line skaters appear, rolling up and down ramps and catching air to the beat of the title song of The Beatles’ fifth studio album. Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” is blended with Harrison’s “Within You Without You” for a segment that brings the entire audience into the production, while “Octopus’s Garden” immerses everyone in a whimsical underwater environment as Ringo Starr gets a turn on vocals. It’s that total immersion in a Beatles universe that separates LOVE from Cirque’s other Vegas extravaganzas.
The in-the-round stage design provides good sightlines from every seat and every character in each intricate tableau is practically a story unto itself, enabling the audience to zoom in on individuals to muse on what they represent. The Beatles LOVE pleases audiences of all ages, from adults who first heard the music as children to children who are being introduced to the music while being kept on the edge of their seats with stunning Cirque fare. With so many things happening, it’s almost impossible to catch everything during a single show, but it’s worth trying—and coming back for more.
The Mirage, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat., $79-$180 plus tax and fee. 702.792.7777