As officially the biggest-selling band or artist of all time, at more than 271 million RIAA-certified albums sold, The Beatles have transcended their Liverpool origins in the United Kingdom to become internationally recognized idols with messages of inclusivity, peace, and, needless to say, love. For the trendsetting Cirque du Soleil, the most renowned acrobatic group, it’s a match made in performance heaven to partner with, and incorporate (since 2006), the unique and melodic juggernaut of The Beatles at The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV.
Dominic Champagne adeptly directs and paces the the seamless 90-minute production of “The Beatles LOVE,” helped by the fetching creative direction from Chantal Tremblay, who has done a wonderful job of highlighting The Beatles’ ascendancy, as well as their psychadelic predispositions, and overall timelessness.
The in-the-round theatre and set by Jean Rabasse have an expansive and panoramic quality about them, whereupon a cavalcade of cast members, clad in multichromatic and prop-accented attire (thanks to costume designer Philippe Guillotel), appear from mechanisms underground and come soaring from the sky. One immediately notices the giant-sized horizontal screens on opposite sides, as well as the mobile LED displays, and various projections by Francis Laporte on gargantuan curtains, which offer a retrospective and historical insight about The Beatles, while also wowing with how well they complement the activity onstage.
One cannot discuss a show about The Beatles without touching on the sound which amounts to 27 versatile numbers comprised of a whopping 120 songs. In this case, “The Beatles LOVE” is bolstered by a magnificently transcendental sound system by Jonathan Deans, as well as the treat of updated sound-mixing by “The Fifth Beatle,” Sir George Martin, and his son, Giles. With over 6,000 speakers for the 2,013 seats, the audience is thrust into the proceedings of the extravaganza, which delivers an immersive feast for the senses.
Undoubtedly, the Cirque du Soleil cast, inclusive of a group of talented children, rises to the expectations of a show that is tasked with honoring the glorious past of perhaps the most decorated band of all time, in addition to satisfying the viewer who hopes to see physical feats that defy human convention. Themes relating to the 1960s — a history marked by social change, including the romance, whimsy, and peculiarities of that time — are materialized by a collection of memorable personae some more abstract than others, though clearly inspired by The Beatles’ pop-culture mythology.
From illustrations where performers walk with umbrellas and flowers in their hands, to doing tricks off a stylized Volkswagen Beetle and “LOVE” van, to effortlessly playing off projections with nary a misstep, to doing rotations and contortions with a spectacular ease, and even acting the various scenes with powerful non-verbals, the cast’s energy is unceasing and wondrous to watch. The many routines – underscored by a spectrum of alluring colors, synchronization, and precise fluidity – are all worth seeing for their blend of athleticism and endless imagination. For instance, during “Because” a few performers bungee drop to the floor, stopping just short a precarious few inches. “Get Back” is memorable for the acrobats jumping up from, and flipping off of, narrow elastic ropes with an incredible smoothness suggestive of not only years of training, but the rarefied air that these performers are in.
To that point, “Something” is astoundingly notable for the narrative being told between a male performer, who in trying to pour his heart out to four female acrobats, springs off one hand, and sinuously moves with a free-flowing dexterity around the women, who just elude him. This scene is beautifully interpretive and reminiscent of a tenderness and melancholy actualized via the physical art form of dance and gymnastics. Another act that stirs the cat-and-mouse game of courtship occurs amid “Yesterday,” and especially “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” whereby a female performer in resplendent white attire moves gracefully with a suspended rope (in the vein of an aerial silk routine), vis-à-vis a male using a wheelbarrow to guide himself back and through the air. This interplay is poetic and is comparable to seeing a couple write their opposites-attract story with mere physicality.
Bearing even greater weight on the scale of poignancy is the dynamic between a black male and pregnant black female who share a moving moment on stage, as projected videos of modern African Americans recount the civil rights epoch that “Blackbird” lyrically represents. It is a powerful reminder that The Beatles’ music cuts across several barriers of race, creed, and religion.
Of course, just as the show brims with significant messages, it is a fanciful and mischievous foray into the spectacular unknown, which The Beatles often explored through song. As we’re taken along the evolution of their catalog from heartthrobs to counter-culture musicians, we experience the effervescence of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” through catapulted spins through the air, and the feverish vibrancy of “Help!” as told with roller-skaters hurtling up near-90-degree ramps. Not to mention, there is the carpe diem jubilation of blown bubbles juxtaposed with performers surreally dressed as musical instruments during “Strawberry Fields Forever,” hand-and-toe-tapping fun (in yellow rain boots) during the spirited choreography of “Lady Madonna,” the celebratory feel of “Hey Jude” as articulated by female aerialists whirling from the ceiling while holding umbrella stems upside down, and an exuberant collage of humanity during “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and finally, “All You Need is Love.”
Invariably, after 12 years, “The Beatles LOVE” is still an extraordinary journey through the life and times of The Beatles as told by an inimitable medium of expression provided by the über-talented Cirque du Soleil troupe. The substantive content, sweeping presentation, and astonishing athleticism combine to create a lasting portrait that remembers as much as it reminds of the joy of being human in a world where creativity, endearment, and fellowship make for a liberating festivity.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE,” which plays at 7 and 9:30 pm on a nightly basis at The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV, please visit cirquedusoleil.com/beatles-love or mirage.com/en/entertainment/the-beatles-love.html