Trying to write an organized trip report in chronological order is preventing me from writing one at all. That and the jet lag. (Didn't get to sleep until 1 am last night!) Instead I'm going to try writing about parts of the trip as they occur to me and see how that goes.
So Georg surprised me with tickets to the new Cirque du Soleil show, Love. This makes the fifth Cirque show in Vegas: Mystere, the original; O, with a water theme; Ka, with a fire theme (it also seems to be vaguely Asian from the posters); Zumanity, the "adult" show; and now Love, with a Beatles theme.
Now, I've always wanted to see Cirque du Soleil. Ever since the first time we went to Vegas I've wanted to see them. I never said anything because the tickets are so expensive. Especially that first time, we were broke and stayed at the tiny Algiers motel (gone now, so sad) and only did free things and rode the bus down to Fremont St. because we couldn't afford a taxi, much less a rental car. Expensive show tickets were just not an option. And I never said anything since then because, as I might have mentioned, I'm a cheap bastard.
Lucky for me, Georg is not. And though he had no idea how much I wanted to see Cirque du Soleil, he knew how much I like the Beatles. So he surprised me with tickets to Love. Which was just about perfect. A total surprise, and totally wonderful.
The show is at the Mirage, formerly the home of Sigfried and Roy, and they did it up with a mod theme: a giant Union Jack in the entry, mod bullseyes and Peter Max style murals inside, and cute outfits for the ushers. I had worn my stewardess dress, not thinking that it would be taken as a thematic costume. But I got compliments on my "groovy outfit" from a couple of the ushers (who were also made to put on British accents). Also a patron ran up to me before the show and said she had to know where I got my outfit. When I told her I had made it, she said "I know you did, but when? Nineteen-sixty-when?" I told her I had made it a couple of years ago but it was a 1966 pattern. She said she knew it because she used to make all her own clothes in the 60s and they looked just like my dress.
The show itself was great. Our seats were pretty close, although when we sat down, most of the stage was obscured by a series of hanging scrims. When the actors started to come out I was frustrated because I couldn't see much through the scrims, and thinking to myself that I'd have to be careful not to express my disappointment to Georg because I didn't want to seem ungrateful for such a nice gift. But just when I was thinking that, the scrims dropped and the music started and the stage basically exploded with people dropping from the ceiling and running in from all sides and coming up out of the floor. It was an amazing effect.
The show was full of elaborate staging and acrobatic feats. As I mentioned I had never seen Cirque du Soleil before, so I didn't know what to expect. But I definitely didn't expect them to set up half-pipes so four guys wearing mop-top wigs could skateboard around the stage. Or women hanging from ropes in the lotus position, sitting perfectly straight without using their hands. Or puppeteers with rows of tiny yellow galoshes that stomped in unison. Or a flying bed, or a guy in drag dressed as Queen Elizabeth I, except there was no skirt in back, just the bare pannier. Or a giant parachute-style cloth to briefly cover the stage and much of the audience, including us. I found out later that visual images were projected onto the cloth. I guess that was a special treat for the nosebleed seats.
The logistics of the show boggled the mind. The floor kept going up and down and I think they must have had several different platforms, because they replaced the props so quickly. Or one time they blew bubbles, and you could see that the floor was covered with bubble juice. I know from experience how that stuff gets, especially on a smooth surface. At the end of the number they dropped the floor away, and brought it back perfectly clean and safe for dancing. I don't think there was time to clean the soap off so they must have had another floor.
The props included 2 classic Volkswagon Beetles, and one was wrought iron! Well actually it looked to me like cast iron that had been made to duplicate the wrought iron art car Beetles. But still, it was beautiful. The other Beetle was shiny white, and looked like a late 60s model. It had the completely chrome bumper so it had to be from before the 70s, but the rear window was too large to have been from the 50s. Anyway, the white Beetle looked really nice, but I wondered how they made it go. It appeared to be moving under its own power, but the rear trunk (where the engine would go) was empty. In fact the car looked like most of its innards had been removed, so that dancers could climb in and out from all angles. Maybe they had a small electric engine inside somewhere. Also I think the roof was reinforced, because several times a dancer jumped onto the roof, with no denting or even momentary distortion.
Later on there was a third Beetle, another white one. When it came out I thought it was the same as the first one, but different: the bumper looked dull and the headlights were covered. Just as I was wondering what they had done to it, the Beetle flew apart into a dozen pieces! It was actually a group of dancers carrying Beetle parts on poles, moving in unison so the car appeared to be driving onto the stage like the others. Sort of a puppet, I guess. The parts must have been made out of fiberglass for weight, which is why the bumper and headlights looked funny.
One funny moment was near the beginning, when all the dancers were dressed on mod costumes. There was one woman in an amazing minidress, a black A-line with a high collar and giant yellow polka dots. She had light green tights and match pink cap and boots. Georg leaned over and asked me "did you see that dress?" I told him "Oh yeah, I'm going to be copying that!" She never got as close as I would have liked, but it looked to me like that polka dots were appliqued. They were so big, and fit exactly on the dress, six around from the hem to the bust. I don't see how they could have done that if it was a printed pattern.
Our only quibble was that they mostly played the monster hits -- for instance they played my two least favorite Beatles songs: "Yesterday" and "Hey Jude." We wished they had focused on more lesser-known Beatles songs instead. But as Georg mentioned, they needed to play the big hits to appeal to the Cirque du Soleil fans who might not know a lot of Beatles songs. And I must admit, sad but true, many people seem to genuinely like hearing the same few songs over and over. I don't understand it, but why else would classic hit radio stations like Sunny 93.9 exist.
So anyway, they mainly played the big hit Beatles songs, with a few exceptions like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite." Which, duh, you couldn't very well do a show about the Beatles with "circus" in the name and not use that song. Then for the hard-core Beatles fans they included snippets of dialogue from studio outtakes that they had gotten from George Martin. Martin also remixed a lot of the music. Which sounds like it might be bad, since so many remixes these days are just taking a good song and ganking an over-aggressive beat onto it and then calling it a remix. But Martin did some interesting things with mixing multiple Beatles songs together. For instance they did a number that was all groovy and psychedelic and Maharishi-y, with "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Within You Without You" mixed together. And then in the outro I caught a snippet of "The Inner Light" from the Rarities album.
I still wished they had gone for a few less obvious choices in the big numbers. Like instead of doing a performance around "Nowhere Man," they could have played "I'm a Loser" or "It's Getting Better." (Although "It's Getting Better" would require a sense of irony that might be lacking in the typical Vegas audience.) But at the end of the show they gave us a survey which asked for suggestions for improvement, and we were able to suggest a broader range of music and also more early music. Although, as Georg pointed out, it was natural for them to go mainly for the later Beatles songs because those tended to be more theatrical.
Before the show Georg and I talked about when we first started listening to the Beatles, and who were our favorite Beatles. Actually Georg didn't really have a favorite, although like me, Paul was his least favorite. John used to be my favorite, and then I started learning more about him and found out that he was kind of an asshole. I guess junkies can be like that. Then George was my favorite. He gets major coolness points for supporting Monty Python movies, not to mention the Rutles. But lately I've been developing more of an appreciation for Ringo. Compared to the other Beatles, his complete lack of hubris is a wonderful thing.
(Speaking of the Rutles, Georg and I agreed that the only thing that would have really improved Love is if they had included the Rutles in the musical selection. Cirque du Soleil performing to the Rutles, wouldn't that be a hoot? Goosestep Mama, oh yeah! Maybe if Neil Innes ever does another Rutles reunion show, he could call it "Rut" and have acrobats in goofy costumes.)
I heard on the radio that today is the show's opening night. Ringo, Paul, George and John's families, and George Martin are going to be there. I bet tickets for tonight's show were hard to get!