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July 6, 2022

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Rowdy red carpet is a little McCartney and Yoko, but a whole lotta ‘Love’

Love Arrivals for Fifth Anniversary

Steve Marcus

Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell arrive for the fifth-anniversary celebration of “The Beatles Love by Cirque du Soleil” at the Mirage on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

Love Arrivals for Fifth Anniversary

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon arrive for the fifth-anniversary celebration of Launch slideshow »
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Recording artist Dhani Harrison and his mother Olivia Harrison arrive for the fifth-anniversary celebration of "The Beatles Love by Cirque du Soleil" at the Mirage on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

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Music producers Sir George Martin and Giles Martin arrive for the fifth-anniversary celebration of "The Beatles Love by Cirque du Soleil" at the Mirage on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

McCartney walks the carpet

McCartney and Ono's post-show address

Red carpet arrivals are often the speed dating of entertainment coverage. A few seconds, then whoosh! The moment passes.

Wednesday’s red carpet arrivals at the “Love” fifth-anniversary performance were a lot like that. Those who did stop didn’t talk long, and the most-coveted subject -- Sir Paul McCartney -- halted long enough just to have his photo taken with his fiancée, Nancy Shevell, before striding into the onetime Siegfried & Roy theater to watch the landmark performance.

As McCartney made the turn off the carpet and toward the theater lobby, the hundreds of fans who began assembling for a glimpse of one of the two surviving Beatles led out a roar. He waved, and that was that (Ringo Starr was not on hand as he was on tour in Europe but did contribute a video message at the beginning of the show in the theater).

There would be one attempt at questioning McCartney, who plays the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday night. I shouted a question so trite it could only be shouted in such circumstances “How’s it feel to be back in Vegas?” I believe his response was “fabulous!” He might have even said “fabuloso!” Hard to tell.

Olivia Harrison, George Harrison’s widow, did make her way over to the carpet, where I was standing next to Variety reporter Matt Kinsman. Asked about Harrison’s vision for the show, she said, “I don’t know what George’s vision of the show would have been, I know he loves Cirque, and he and (Cirque co-founder) Guy Laliberte were so excited about doing this show. I think it reaches as high as what they thought it might have been. I do, I really do.”

She said the music forged an effective marriage between the imaginative music of The Beatles and Cirque’s distinctive form of live entertainment.

“I think, when you hear the music, it is really a collaboration between two very different mediums,” she said. “It’s the visual and the aural, and I think they blend beautifully. That’s a synchronicity you cannot force. … Love is all there is.”

Of Las Vegas, she said, “I always have a great time because they are so kind to us here. I think that’s how everybody should be treated.”

Yoko Ono, accompanied by her son, Sean Ono Lennon, provided some drive-by comments, too: “(The show) is beautiful, and it’s successful. We’re lucky to have this show, and I’m lucky, I’m very lucky because I will be here with my son. … The Beatles’ message is so strong that it can take anything and make it good. It’s beautiful.”

“Love” is not exactly the only homage to Beatles playing out at the Mirage. Just up the hallway, ventriloquist Terry Fator uses a Beatle-esque puppet in his show. He’s using it without authorization, too, as no one from Apple Corp. (The Beatles’ licensing company) has formally approved the use of the puppet. But none of the company’s officials -- and certainly not McCartney and Starr, who have never seen Fator’s show -- have complained.

“His name is Hyphen, and the reason it’s Hyphen is he helped write all of The Beatles songs,” Fator said as he edged along the carpet with his wife, Taylor, at his side. “In the credits, it’s Lennon-hyphen-McCartney, so his name is Hyphen. (But) we’ve never heard anything from anyone. We’re actually working with some people to get rights to do different songs and different things, but The Beatle character was just for the live show. At this point, I’m not planning on ever putting him on video. If you want to see The Beatle, you have to come see the live show.”

Fator has used the little puppet in photos of the band, shown on the theater’s video boards, on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and in line on the famed “Abbey Road” album cover. That has stopped.

“We’re working on getting all the rights to having him in the pictures,” Fator said. “We’ve taken them out of the show, and we’re working on getting everything legal and having The Beatles’ blessing so they realize it’s all just fun. We’re having a ball with it.”

Later, violin virtuoso Joshua Bell showed up with Frankie Moreno, whose band was long the studio and touring band for Air Supply and who has appeared at Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget for the past couple of years. Moreno, who has just signed a recording contract with Sony Records, collaborated with Bell on a stirring rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” that they were set to play at the show’s VIP after-party.

“I was making an album at home with friends and happened into the Rush Lounge and met Frankie there, and I said he needs to be on the album,” said Bell, who had just arrived from an appearance in Moscow and had never seen the show (nor had Moreno, for that matter). That’s how we came up with the Eleanor Rigby. Just sat in the room and put together and it evolved from there.”

At that, the two headed off to the show. Also taking part in the celebration was a mishmash of such figures as Slash, the Killers, drummer Matt Sorum, Elijah Wood, Criss Angel, Matt Goss, Robin Antin, Gayle King, Patricia Arquette, Todd Morgan, Joan Osborne, Mark McGrath, Marcia Gay Harden, Green Day’s Mike Dirnt, Chef Kerry Simon and Carrot Top.

At the end of the show, which as always was spellbinding, McCartney, Ono and Sir George Martin addressed the audience. Ono gave credit to Olivia Harrison for enacting her late husband’s dream for the show, saying, “She made this possible.” McCartney thanked Cirque officials and the cast and shouted, “Most of all, let's hear it for The Beatles,” to wild response.

But the 85-year-old Martin had what would serve as the night’s theme, taking the mic from McCartney and telling him, “I love you.”

In The Beatles’ hands, always, love is the answer.

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