042609 Cirque du Soleil: The Beatles Love, Las Vegas, NV

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I am a big Beatles fan.  My friend JP is a much bigger Beatles fan.  

JP and I were roommates for years and we used to joke/dream of going to Vegas together all the time.  One night we were at a local pub and JP was going on and on about going to Vegas and in the moment I was pretty tired of it.  So just to shut him up I attempted to call his bluff, slurring that we could get in my car that very night and drive to Vegas, it should only take two or three days.

Of course my plan backfired; he was too many beers deep to be called out as a bluffer and he started making plans immediately, which is to say he called for a final round for the road and kept saying things like, “Woo! We’re going to Vegas, baby!”

Of course I had no intention whatsoever of beginning a forty-hour drive at 2am while heavily under the influence.  Besides, between the two of us we could hardly pay our bar tab, let alone find enough money to get us to Las Vegas; it was all sheer lunacy.  But JP had gotten himself worked into such a lather that he started throwing clothes into a suitcase as soon as we got home.  When he saw that I had gone straight to bed JP was livid.  He yanked me out of bed.

“What are you doing?!?” he yelled, shaking me.  “Get packing, we’re going to Vegas just like you said!” and he tore out of my room.  The man was on a mission and I was not getting off the hook easily.  Drastic times called for drastic measures.

When I heard the bathroom door close I grabbed my car keys and took the opportunity to find a place to hide.  It was now 3am, I couldn’t go out anywhere.  There was nowhere in the kitchen or the living room to hide, and the basement was no good either.  Think man, and think fast!

From my hiding spot I soon heard JP tearing through the house looking for me.  I heard him go in and out of the basement and through every room.  At one point he even opened the upstairs closet, where I had somehow managed to wedge myself behind the vacuum cleaner, contortionist-style.  I saw his legs just inches away; I froze and held my breath.  After a few seconds he shut the door again – there was no way a guy my size could be hiding among the linen shelves, it was impossible – and he continued on his futile search.

Eventually the house went quiet.  I waited another half-hour and crept out of my hovel, stretching out a full-body kink.  JP had given up and fallen asleep; it was over.  

More than a decade later I was still champing at the bit to go to Vegas and with a new Cirque du Soleil Beatles show taking up residency in tinsel town I searched for a way that I could get down there and see it with JP.  So I harangued a bunch of our friends and we all kicked in and took JP to Las Vegas for his birthday.  On April 26th, 2009 the plan finally came together.

Though we were six guys in Vegas only three of us went to the Cirque show.  After the show we were very quick to inform the others of their poor decision to pass up such an astounding performance.

The best thing about seeing a Vegas Cirque show is the room.  The theatres are built specifically and solely for the particular show so they are unique, beautiful, and very versatile.  It’s not like they have to roll this production into different arenas and hope they can hang the proper trusses or use below-stage hydraulics; if they think of an effect they need they can build it right into the theatre and they do.  As a matter of fact, as we took our seats JP turned to me and said that just seeing the theatre was worth half the price of admission.  I don’t know about that, but I will add that Cirque shows are best viewed from the wide-view cheap seats, which is where we were lucky enough to be sitting.

At the core this was musical show so the room concentrated on sound.  Each seat had a subwoofer beneath it, each row featured a long strip-like speaker attached to the row in front, and countless sound sources were hidden in acoustically perfect spots throughout the room.

The soundtrack for the show wasn’t a live band (a Cirque first in my experience), but instead they used a brilliant remix of The Beatles’ catalogue created by their longtime producer Sir George Martin and his son Giles.  The pair did an astounding job remixing what is unquestionably the greatest rock music ever recorded so it’s no surprise that they ended up with something great.

The show itself leaned pretty heavily on acrobatics and a bit light on Cirque du Soleil’s signature death-defying stunts the likes of which you never imagined, but it was still pretty great.  The visuals tried to relive the era of The Beatles, with bobbies and rockers and mods jumping around an ever-changing stage and a really cool lo-fi trick where the performers alluded to the nuclear age by releasing a parachute that fell back to the stage in the shape of an atomic mushroom cloud.

In short (he says at the end of such a long tale) I was in awe for the whole show and sat with my ears wide open and my jaw fully agape throughout.  If not for the music (and the company) I would have rated it low on my personal Cirque scale, but all things considered The Beatles Love remains solidly in my top three Cirque du Soleil experiences.

Afterwards I went out and won a pile of money at something.  On this trip to Vegas I ended up winning money on every single game I played; I came home with almost $1,000 more than I went down with.  I had so much blind luck I even found a crisp $100 bill on the floor of The Flamingo as I was on my way to cash out the slot winnings I hit on a free-pull promotion.  Lunch was on me.

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