Music as a visual poses a problem for some people, mostly music purists. MTV changed that somewhat, but much of the music before MTV — the great classic rock of the 60s and 70s — conjured up different pictures and images, depending on the person, circumstance, place, year, month, day, time and moment. And none more than the Holy Grail — the music of the Beatles. The Fab’s own quirky visual representations of their songs requirew copious amounts of opiates, a wide-eyed imagination and an impenetrable sense of humor. Few have been allowed to engage Beatles music into a modern setting. There have been many interpretations, but it took a creative monolith like Cirque Du Soleil to stumble upon the idea that interpreting Beatles music is a dead-end street. The Canadian troupe was intent on letting Beatles music — the actual recordings — do the interpreting. Such is the magic of Love.
The idea of using Beatles music to enhance the kinetic acrobatics of Cirque Du Soleil was the brainchild of Cirque founder Guy Laliberte and George Harrison. After Harrison passed away in 2001, there was a concerted effort to turn the idea inot a reality. The story of what happened is magnificently captured on All Together Now, a new DVD that documents the making of Love — from conception to opening night. If you’ve seen the show in Las Vegas, this documentary provides a thoroughly unique perspective. If you haven’t seen it, there are a few spoilers along the way. Either way, watching the process behind the production is a fascinating journey for anyone.
We see George Martin and son Giles putting the music together at Abbey Road studio in London. Dominic Champagne, who wrote and coordinated LOVE for Cirque, sits humbly to the side, making notes on how he can integrate the music with the production. The DVD features a separate 22-minute documentary on the music that was altered to accommodate the show. The Martins are very careful not to impede on the music’s impact and inviolability, while utilizing state-of-the-art technology to masterfully brighten and embellish the classic Beatles sound.
Then it’s off to Cirque Du Soleil headquarters in Montreal for rehearsals. It’s especially poignant to watch the dancers and acrobats work with the music in the bare settings of a sound stage. Along the way, creative input, namely from Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, keeps Champagne on his toes. It’s only later that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr become part of the process, and it appears they have little to say. Because of the production’s complexities, many of the cast members appear to be in the dark of how Love will actually play out.
It isn’t until the troupe ramps up the rehearsals in the Mirage Theater in Las Vegas that the show falls together. The Martins express concerns over the audio, which is supposedly supported by one of the most sophisticated, all-encompassing sound systems ever devised. At one point, Ono finds the sequence using “Come Together” objectionable, and Champagne can be heard saying, “Yoko hates it.” With so many entities involved — primarily, Apple, Cirque and the Mirage — overcoming creative differences presents a real challenge and a captivating insight into how the creative process, bumpy roads and all, takes shape. But toward the end of the 84-minute documentary, it becomes apparent that Love surpassed all expectations as a powerful multimedia experience driven by detailed, attentive choreography and the classic music of the Beatles. Watching McCartney and Starr react favorably to the show may be the greatest reward of all.
As Love continues to astound Las Vegas visitors, the music of the Beatles is slowly being integrated into other entertainment avenues. New partnerships are being formed, enabling the exposure of the Beatles and their legacy for future generations to absorb and appreciate. If these ventures are as tasteful and reverent as Cirque has been, fans and followers could be in for a host of Beatle-related entertainment options for years to come.