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May 31, 2016

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Cirque du Soleil:

Refreshed ‘The Beatles Love’ is vibrant with new music, acts, costumes, videos

Image

Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

Rehearsal for Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles Love” on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, at the Mirage.

‘Love’ Rehearsal at the Mirage

Rehearsal for Cirque du Soleil's Launch slideshow »

The Beatles Love

Love Fifth-Anniversary Red Carpet

Yoko Ono Lennon and Sean Lennon at the fifth-anniversary celebration of The Beatles Love by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage on June 8, 2011.

Launch slideshow »

In the 1960s when I worked for Britain’s Daily Mail in Liverpool, it was a grimy and depressing Northern England city. When The Beatles were born there two decades earlier, it was even worse.

There’s a symbolism in the opening World War II scene at the refreshed “The Beatles Love” by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage as the rooftop chimney bricks explode during the Blitz.

“Love” blasts off with a new spring in its step just like the makeover Merseyside city they put on the global map. The acrobatic dancers even have springs embedded in the new spongy floor to propel them faster and higher as they belt into a raucous “Twist and Shout.”

There’s a new, vibrant look and exciting feel to the show that celebrates its 10th anniversary in July.

The changes, as we reported in our interview with musical director Giles Martin at Vegas DeLuxe on Feb. 16, began with a decision two years ago to transform The Beatles show top to bottom.

Last Thursday, after a two-week shutdown and months of daily rehearsals while the show was running by night, the cast presented its new look to the public for the first time.

I saw it Friday: Seventy percent of the show is different — and marvelous and magnificent. The remaining 30 percent will be updated and integrated between now and when Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison arrive in July for the 10th anniversary.

The show feels as if it’s catapulted at high speed into its second decade of Strip success. Each of the 2,013 seats has had its three old speakers replaced with two more modern, smaller ones that give it a bolder, bigger and brasher sound.

It’s like eavesdropping on a Beatles recording session as if you are the producer and not Giles’ dad, Sir George Martin, who was often referred to as “The Fifth Beatle” because he engineered their records.

That’s particularly true in the “Lady Madonna” recording session that leads into “Hey Jude” and “Strawberry Fields,” with the bubble-blowing effect from the sudsy piano lid. Giles and his father remixed 80 minutes of The Beatles music for the original Cirque show in 2006.

Since then, Giles has backed up the Beatles catalog and last year remixed their No. 1 hits digitally. He was perfect to replace all the audio in “Love.” The Beatles’ legacy of genius in their music and lyrics is intact forever. He now describes it as “glorious sounds.” I agree.

The Beatles provided new, previously never seen video from their vaults at Apple Music to director Dominic Champagne, who has miraculously created animated, interactive holograms of The Beatles in black-and-white silhouette.

Enjoy the experience as an open-mouthed, gee-whiz moment. I loved the aerial ballet that featured four girls and one guy “flying” and “swooping” to “Something in the Way She Moves.”

The couple on the trapeze for Paul’s “Yesterday” video are magically interlocked. The ballet for “Here Comes the Sun” is an emotional spine-tingler.

The high-above staging of “The Octopus Garden” is adorable, and sparklers descending from the ceiling of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” seem as large as Caesars Palace headliner Mariah Carey’s engagement ring.

One minute, the show can go from eye-popping psychedelic colors to the purity of a white chiffon tent draped over the entire the audience. The dancing seems to have picked up a harder and faster beat.

The dancer on roller skates moving and grooving to “Help” has to be seen to be believed. The trampoline skater performers for “Revolution” seem to speed faster, jump higher and somersault farther.

All of the added effects and action plays out on the computerized floor, which becomes a giant screen for 24 projectors — so lifelike at one point it looks as if it’s a glistening lake.

Not only does it change colors, but the sections of colored squares also go “splat” into various shapes with the tap-dancing and jumping dancers as they land. It’s modern showbiz technology at its finest — an interactive gym floor.

The show, with its cast of 65 international performers, ends on a high point of the marching Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band in new, vivid and colorful uniforms and performers walking on stilts sculpted from their musical instruments. It’s whimsical fun and very effective visually.

I didn’t want the show to end. There’s so much going on, one has to return at least five times to capture it all. It’s a wondrous and emotional experience that lasts for days.

In a day and age of ugly schoolyard bully political discourse, you want to remain in The Beatles wonderland.

By now, you know the story of how one night The Beatles manager Brian Epstein called me on the Daily Mail news desk pitching me to fly with the-then Gold Bugs to Hamburg, Germany, for their debut in underground caverns.

My editor didn’t want rock and roll reports — how times have changed! — so I told Brian to call my Daily Express rival but good pal Derek Taylor. Derek became Apple Music president, and I came to America where I made their first tour with them. C’est la vie — I have no regrets.

John, Paul, George and Ringo got it right. Their genius won over the world. Giles, Dominic and the cast have just made “The Beatles Love” even better, as hard as that is to believe.

“The Beatles Love” plays at the Mirage twice nightly — at 7 and 9:30 — Thursdays through Mondays, dark Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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