When a Beatle asks you to collaborate, just say YES.
That's what Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté did when George Harrison proposed a stage show set to the Beatles' timeless music and featuring Cirque's spectacular stagecraft.
See also: John Lennon Remembered.
Now LOVE, the show that emerged from that conversation years ago, is celebrating its fifth year of standing-room-only performances at Las Vegas' Mirage Hotel. Almost the entire extended Beatles family attended an anniversary show this summer to mark the occasion: Paul McCartney; John Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, and son, Sean; and George Harrison's wife, Olivia (Harrison died in 2001 before the show premiered) and son, Dhani. Ringo Starr was unable to attend.
The celebration was years in the making. Figuring out the right approach was the first challenge. Laliberté, a good friend of Harrison, immediately turned to Dominic Champagne, a veteran Cirque writer and director. "I was delighted," Champagne said, although he admits the project was daunting. "I didn't want to be the one who killed the masterpiece," he said. "Instead of building the show on what we call an acrobatic skeleton, I started by studying the lyrics and the Beatles' story," Champagne said. "The challenge was making sure the Beatles themselves would be happy about the show."
To make sure, Champagne began meeting with acclaimed Beatles producer George Martin and Martin's son, Giles, to work on the music. "We started to play a game," Champagne remembers, "You know, what if we play around with this song, say, what would be your idea?"
Showcasing once again the creativity that was always a Beatles hallmark, the show uses the original recordings the band made in the 1960s, but remixes them in startling ways. So "Strawberry Fields Forever" starts with John Lennon's original home recording and transitions into the famous studio version, before the horn solo from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" comes in. Soon, the piano solos from "In My Life" and "Piggies" and the trumpet from "Penny Lane" join the party. Finally, the fade-out vocals from "Hello Goodbye" bring it all to a close.