Sunday, July 23, 2006

Love Is All You Need

I was thinking today about the kinds of things I want to put in my blog and I realized I did have something I wanted to write about and never had an outlet.

I saw "The Beatles Love," a new Cirque du Soleil show, in Las Vegas about a month ago and it was such an amazing experience that I want to try and express it into words. I know that will be difficult because I loved it so much and I am still in awe of it (also I don't know much about acrobatics).

"Love" is a surreal experience from the moment you step into the theatre. The ushers are in costume-- The women are dressed like bobbies with blue helmets and dresses and the men are dressed in Sgt. Pepper suits. The round theatre was built especially for the show and every seat has built-in speakers, creating an unparalleled surround sound experience.

Sir George Martin, former producer for the Beatles, and his son, Giles Martin, were the music directors for "Love". They went through every recording they had, some never released, and combined about 130 songs to create the soundtrack for the show, often interweaving the songs. This is sometimes jarring as you think you are hearing one song, and it turns out to be another. Only somebody who knew the Beatles and their music as intimately as Sir George could have created this unique blend of their music.

I wish I wrote down the songs so I could remember everything, and I hope to see the show again because I am sure there are things that even I missed. As it is, I'll write what I remember, and I hope I describe it accurately.

The first sounds are those of the Beatles singing "Because" (I believe it is the Anthology version, I know it's not the original). As cliche as it sounds, hearing their voices in harmony in surround sound gave me chills. The music just envelops you. While the music is playing, the people on stage are men climbing ropes. The scene seems so simple, yet I cannot imagine a more powerful and moving beginning.

There is complete chaos for the next number, "Get Back," when confetti falls from the sky and dancers and acrobats rush the stage which has become a rooftop in London.

One of my favorite scenes is "Something." There is one male dancer trying to reach out to four female acrobats on ropes in the air. In some ways these simpler scenes with less people are easier to watch because you know where to focus.

I also loved "Octopus's Garden" because it looked exactly like what I imagine an octopus's garden to look like. The songs are not all literal translations of the lyrics, although you never leave the Beatles world. Henry the Horse appears in "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and in one scene the VW bug from the "Abbey Road" cover appears, complete with the "28IF" license (one of the "Paul is dead" clues).

I was most impressed with the acrobatics in "Revolution" where the performers are jumping onto red telephone booths and flying across the air. Overall, however, this is a very dance heavy show and at times it feels more like a ballet than a circus.

After seeing the show, I cannot imagine a better way to be tribute to the boys. If you will indulge me with another cliche, it's not just a show, it's an experience. Leaving the theatre is like the feeling you have when you wake up from a dream and you try to remember all the pieces and make sense of it all. A month later, I am still doing that.

Click here to view a trailer.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Welcome to the age of blogs

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a graduate student in the Goldring Arts Journalism program at Syracuse University. I've been avoiding getting a blog, but Michael Barnes told us all to get one, and I should listen to him because he knows what he is talking about. So I now have a blog. And I probably won't write in it again until Newhouse boot camp ends.