In ‘Love’ celebration, Cirque plans for tomorrow and revamps ‘Yesterday’


Ethan Miller

Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre, in white suit, appears with others at a red carpet event for the Beatles “Love” 10th anniversary celebration, Thursday, July 15, 2016.

Fri, Jul 15, 2016 (7 p.m.)

The acrobatics never cease for Cirque du Soliel, on or away from the stage.

Over the past year the company has launched its first Broadway production, “Paramour,” and relaunched three titles under its company umbrella on the Strip: “Zumanity” at New York-New York, Criss Angel’s “Mindfreak Live!” at Luxor and “Love” at the Mirage.

The Beatles-Cirque production was revamped in concert with the show’s 10th anniversary, which was celebrated happily (if somewhat tardily) on Thursday night. “Love” opened formally in June 2006, but the anniversary was celebrated a bit later to allow the changes in the new show to take hold. Also, more time was required so the the various legends in the Beatles family — especially Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr — could perform scheduling gymnastics and make it to Vegas at the same time.

Among the Cirque officials returning to the Strip for the celebration were longtime Cirque Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lamarre. Having joined the company in 2001, Lamarre has been around long enough to see the show blossom with, at its peak, eight shows running concurrently on the Strip. He’s seen a couple close, too, both at Aria — “Viva Elvis!” in 2012 and “Zarkana” this spring, as MGM Resorts opted to take apart the theater in favor of a $165 million convention buildout.

Cirque’s stage shows opened 20 years ago with “Mystere” at Treasure Island, and with the most recent activity on the Strip completed, there is a feeling the company has finally settled on the right amount of “content” (or, shows) in Vegas.

But don’t jump (to conclusions), says Lamarre.

“We have a lot of ideas for Vegas, and where we want to be is to reach a younger crowd,” Lamarre said during the red-carpet walk before Thursday night’s anniversary performance at the Mirage. “We have a lot of ideas we are testing right now in order to remain a very important player in the market.

“We have shows like this one, that will last forever, but we have to bring in new types of shows.”

Trying to lock up millennials, the 18-34 age group Lamarre is referring to, is a maddening science. But Cirque has bolstered its social-media team and activity in a way that will grab that particular demographic as they arrive in Las Vegas. Often, millennials arrive in the city with no plan whatsoever; drawing them to something Cirque-like is challenging, but Lamarre is optimistic the company’s artistry appeals to a younger culture.

“One thing we noticed is millennials, when they see our shows, they love it,” he said. “We just are not talking the same language.”

Lamarre pointed to a new Cirque initiative, its partnership with the NFL in Times Square in New York opening in the fall of 2017. Titled, “NFL Times Square,” the project, which is also a partnership with AEG, once more shows Cirque expanding its reach.

The attraction will cover more than 40,000 square feet and include a 350-seat theater, all of which will present a new and unique view of NFL games in immersive high-definition and take part in a series of skills tests. Cirque artists are not going to be running plays — which I feel would not be good for anybody — but the idea is that Cirque is adding its creative production qualities to what is easily the most powerful sports brand in the country.

“This is new artistic content, and an equivalent of that type of content can be brought for the younger crowd in Las Vegas,” Lamarre said. “That is what we are exploring now.”

Generally, Lamarre said Cirque needs to return to the more underground sensibility it owned when the company was launched by the street performer Guy Laliberte.

“Cirque was very edgy 40 years ago,” he said. “Now we have to be edgy again with new types of shows.”

• One of the key moments in the updated “Love” production is a more emotionally moving version of “Yesterday” than was presented in the show’s original form. Added to that number is a video clip of McCartney performing the song on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1965.

“Giles (Martin, the “Love’s” co-creator who designed the music for the show) showed me the clip of ‘Yesterday' with young Paul McCartney, and wow, I said, ‘We need to use this in the show, you know?’ ” the show’s co-creator Dominic Champagne said Thursday afternoon. “I see this and it is incredible to be able to use it with the dancers in that number.”

Members of the Beatles’ inner circle at Apple Corps had previously resisted the use of the band’s images, but warmed to the idea when “Love” became a hit. Champagne had been using silhouetted figures, portrayed by Cirque artists, projected on scrims in the theater. He pulled digitally remastered studio conversations to create dialogue. It works, as the voices especially feel as if they are coming from the next seat, and the silhouette segments have been expanded in the new “Love.”

What we will not see, thankfully, is a band performing a live tribute to the Beatles at the Mirage or artists evoking any impressions of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

“That would be a difficult thing to do,” Champagne said, chuckling. “We have all those Beatles cover bands, you know, but in the meantime we could evoke their images without having that one person represent Ringo throughout the show. We have had the opportunity to put the real music, real voices and now real images in the show, so it would have been cheating to have a fake John Lennon onstage.

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