|Liverpool Productions Presents:
August 21 - 30, 2017 Liverpool and London
August 19 - 21, 2017 Amsterdam Option
Weekend of LOVE in Las Vegas
February 9-11, 2007
Report by Janice Jennings
The first-ever "Weekend of LOVE" began with Beatles fans and friends arriving at the Imperial Palace located in the center of Las Vegas Boulevard. This is an ideal location if you are planning to walk the Strip. It is also directly across the street from The Mirage, which is where the Cirque du Soleil performance of LOVE takes place.
our first day, we gathered at the V Theater located inside the Desert
Passage which is connected to The Aladdin. The Desert Passage is just
one of the many shopping hot spots found along Las Vegas Boulevard, otherwise
known as "The Strip." The Fab Four had agreed to give a special
performance for us even though they normally do not perform on Fridays.
As our group of 40-45 people gathered at the entrance, it was exciting
to find companions from previous Magical History Tours to England. While
we reacquainted ourselves and met new friends, we were entertained by
local acts performing on a stage in the center of the mall.
Charles and Danny, our tour hosts, assembled our group to be escorted inside the V Theater. We were seated close to the stage, and anxiously awaited to be entertained by The Fab Four. Hearing the music of The Beatles always takes you back in time, but when you find yourself face to face with Ed Sullivan, and he says, "And, here they are…The Beatles!" I guarantee you will feel chills run down your spine. The Fab Four are consummate musicians and performers. They cover every phase of The Beatles musical career, complete with costumes, characterizations, and even Go-Go dancers! And their Mr. Sullivan adds to the fun with a comical comment or two throughout the performance. After the show, 'the lads' joined us for a meet and greet outside the theater entrance.
Ernie and Jan Scott add that the lead guitarist (Gavin) was a dead ringer for George, and we later found out that he is actually from Liverpool! And that the Fab Four's original bass player was recovering from open heart surgery the week.
performance had ended by 6pm, which left the evening free for other
activities. Walking the Strip and absorbing the bright lights of the
hotels and casinos was appealing. Some chose to attend another concert
or show at another hotel. Some went to see concerts by Petula Clark,
Foreigner, the Moody Blues or Prince, all of whom were in town. Frank
Branchini and Paul Allison attended the Prince show, where he was joined
on stage by special guest Elton John that night! Others headed back
to the hotel and booked seats for the "Legends" show...that
night it was Rod Stewart, Marilyn Monroe, U-2, Janet Jackson and Elvis.
These are NOT lip-synching look-alikes, but sound-alike performers in
their own right.
|A few went to the Revolution Lounge inside The Mirage. This lounge features covers of Beatles music in every genre. You have not truly experienced their compositions until you hear it performed in reggae, jazz, swing, or funky lounge remixes. A psychedelic atmosphere is provided by swirling lights of paisley, shapes and flowers which dance across the room in different colors. For your added pleasure, you may grab a hot pink bean bag chair to relax. Tell the waitress Austin Powers sent you.|
|Saturday - Eddy Herch, a previous Magical History Tour attendee, booked a suite at the Sahara for the weekend. He and his brother Frank are Las Vegas locals, but Eddy wanted to treat his fellow Beatles friends to a special experience. This particular suite was where The Beatles stayed when they performed in Las Vegas in 1964. We met at room 2344 of the Alexander Tower at 10am. The furnishings and decorations have changed since 1964, but the cabinetry and woodwork is reminiscent of the 1960s era. We all walked around the living room, the bar, the bedroom, and the bathroom imagining what went on 43 years prior. Since the Sahara is located at the very north end of the Strip, the view from the suite balcony is amazing. You can almost see the entire length of the Strip. Frank Herch pointed out where original hotels used to be and what was now in their place.|
That afternoon, we were divided into two smaller groups to be given a very special exclusive backstage tour of the production of LOVE. Alan Hills, who is the company manager, gave us an inside look as to what makes LOVE work and sound like it does. We were led into the theater where we sat in a section of upper level seats. Pamela, a friend of Charles' from Cirque du Soleil, also hosted us. Alan explained that the cast was breaking-in two new members and therefore we would be privy to a couple of rehearsals. But, we also had to be very quiet. The song rehearsed for our group was 'Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.' It was thrilling to watch.
Afterwards, Alan told us how the concept of LOVE originated. It began as a conversation between pals George Harrison and Guy Laliberte. Guy is one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. In honor of George, Guy sought to carry out their idea. After three years of negotiations between all legal parties involved, LOVE was born. It is a unique production in the fact that it was written around pre-recorded material, whereas, normally, the music is written around a Cirque du Soleil show.
Alan said the headrest speakers were to give the sensation that The Beatles are sitting right next to you. He also said you need to lean back against the headrest in order to best experience this, whereas normally the tendency is to lean forward from excitement. The stage was constructed to hide all the technical aspects of the show, from below and above. You are not to notice those lifts and trolleys in motion. Pam, who is from Liverpool, advised us that the best seats are not the ones closest to the stage. It is best to sit mid-way, which is where our tickets were.
Alan answered some of our questions:
We left the theater and broke into two groups to ride the elevator down below stage level. While waiting for the second group, one of the cast members showed us a 'smoking umbrella' and how it works.
We were taken to the Sound Production room. This room houses the recording studio where George Martin and his son, Giles, worked their magic with The Beatles catalog. The studio was built as an exact replica to the one at Abbey Road in London. This provided the ease of adjustment from the England studio to the Vegas studio with no difficulty. All the original recordings from Abbey Road are now stored in a temperature-controlled and heavily-secured vault at the Mirage.
Although the music was orchestrated from 130 original Beatles recordings, the show consists of 27 pieces. During a flawless performance, you will hear 27 musical numbers. But on rare occasions, when the timing is off, you may hear a 'show saver.' These are musical transitions that Giles created to accommodate any irregularity. We learned that 'Yellow Submarine' has been orchestrated as a 'show saver.' What would need to happen in order for us to hear that?!? Alan said they were prepared for anything. There is one number in the show that is slightly different: 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' has an added string arrangement written by Sir George Martin. We were introduced to Jason Pritchard, Head of Audio, before moving to the next department, Props.
Alan showed us a rack of harnesses that are used for training. We saw the Paper Monster, two VW Beetles that have been fortified for acrobatic purposes, and the Russian Swing. A Russian invention, hence the name, the swing looks like a skateboard with two wires. Usually, the artist requires a net for safety, but not the performer for LOVE. He really is "live without a net."
Our last stop was in Make-Up and Wardrobe. Here we met one of the youngest members of the cast, and Hassan, 'The Eggman.' Hassan was getting his body-paint applied. He is to be covered in tattoos. We were told that originally they would apply the tattoos one by one, a very long process. Then, they had the idea to make a body cast, cut out the tattoo patterns and spray paint through the cast, like a stencil. A bit of detail is added afterwards. It is still a lengthy procedure, but not like before. Hassan was very nice and accommodating to allow us to watch him 'get his costume.
and Pam bid us goodbye and told us they would see us after the show. A
backstage tour has been granted just four times:
Paul, Ringo, Olivia and Yoko
We felt very privileged to have had the opportunity. Many thanks to Liverpool Productions/LiverpoolTours and the LOVE staff for this special treat. We repaid our gratitude to The Mirage by purchasing tons of souvenirs from the adjacent LOVE-Beatles shop.
Our performance of LOVE did not begin until 10pm. This left ample time to shop, dine, and wander around The Mirage or the nearby Caesar's Palace before we needed to get ready for the show. The LOVE theater was previously used by Siegfried and Roy. The Mirage has provided a private habitat for a few of the white tigers. They can be seen on a daily basis through viewing windows along one hallway of the casino.
8:30pm, those of us who hadn't visited the Revolution Lounge assembled
in our V.I.P. area. By 9:30pm, most of our group was seated in section
207. The very reason we had traveled for this trip was about to commence.
We were all very excited. Members of the cast, in character and costume,
walked around the different sections to heighten your anticipation.
The show began with the bare bones vocal rendition of 'Because,' but it was soon followed by an energetic explosion of 'Get Back.' I knew during that number I was going to see this show again! The music and storyline traces The Beatles career alongside the events of their lives. 'Get Back' features the bombing of Liverpool during WWII. This is followed by the recovery period, loneliness and loss with 'Eleanor Rigby.' The Beatles' career skyrocketed along with the discovery of rock'n'roll with the number 'Drive My Car.' This is where the VW Beetles come into play. The performers on stage are zealous with a new lease on life, and they somersault across the vehicles. The first 20 minutes has the audience riveted with excitement. It was difficult to focus on any particular person because there was so much happening at the same time. Then all this transcends into a moving and flowing number of 'Something' by three flying angels on ropes. The grace and fluidity that is shown in their maneuvers had the audience transfixed in wonderment. We are shaken from our stupor by 'Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.' This was special because of our earlier peek of the rehearsal during the day. During this number, we heard a fire alarm. Was this part of the show? It was hard to tell, no one was reacting to it, including the performers. The alarm sounded again. The couple sitting next to me said this was not part of the show. The emergency lighting was activated and the music stopped. The performers at this time consisted of our brave Russian on 'the swing' and four inline skaters. When the power was cut, the inline skaters left their perch at the top of the ramps and skated off stage. Our Russian fellow was stranded on the swing at the top of the theater. People in the audience offered encouragement with "all you need is love" and similar remarks. A rope ladder was lowered to the stage and held in place by a crew member while the Russian performer descended to safety.
The audience, not knowing what was to happen next, waited in silence. A cast member, dressed as an overweight circus performer, came out to announce, (without power or microphone) that the fire alarm was mostly likely a false alarm and to remain seated. They fully intended to continue with the show. Moments later, the sprinkler system erupted in section 203, showering all the patrons therein. There were screams, mostly from the shock of getting wet, and only in that section. But I knew at that moment, just like when Jim Lovell realized he had lost the moon in Apollo 13, we had just lost the show.
Scott recalls that we all just looked at each other and shrugged in
shock. None of us could BELIEVE what had just happened! Some of us had
flown approximately 1,500 miles one way, and we were being EVACUATED?
You frankly had to laugh…
was advised to go to the lobby and collect refunds. Our little group was
stunned! We wanted to see the show! Ultimately knowing there was no way
they could continue with soaked equipment, soaked seats, and water everywhere
in that area of the theater. We gathered inside the lobby and found it
hard to drag ourselves away. As time wore on, and ushers politely prodding
us to leave, we did. Our refunds were in the hands of Liverpool Tours,
so all was not lost.
Original plans called for us to meet after the show for a bit of karaoke singing. Those plans were discarded and everyone just hung out together or left for their hotel room.
- It was time to check out of the Imperial Palace and meet with our
fellow travelers at the Hard Rock Café. Our Weekend of Love was
nearly over, how fast it went by. We filled the chairs around four tables
and a cushy bench. Much of the conversation reflected about the LOVE
performance and the events of its cancellation. We didn't miss the irony
of it happening only once, when our group of fans were there. Even though
we were disappointed, we were also grateful it had not been a real emergency.
The Cafe played a medley of Beatles tunes and videos to pick up our
spirits. It worked. This was followed by the famous crowd-pleaser, YMCA.
And on cue, Charles and Danny were up on the cushy couch, leading everyone,
and I do mean EVERYONE, in the dance and song. I am convinced they both
worked at a Hard Rock in a previous life.
our lunch, we had a surprise visit from Todd and Jerry, manager and band
member of Fab Forever. It was really nice for them to come by and chat
with us. As a parting gift, Charles and Danny had arranged for everyone
to receive a free jewel-cut shot glass from the Hard Rock. Then, all too
soon we were saying goodbye to our new and old friends.
Thanks to Charles and Danny for all their planning and undying spirits. Let us all 'Come Together' and do this again. LOVE is all you need.
Photo below, of the photo of The Beatles in Vegas live at the Sahara Hotel, taken by Frank Branchini
in the end…
the days of February 9-11, we had our first "Weekend of LOVE"
in Las Vegas. Eddy Herch, whom some of you know from him zipping around
on his scooter on the 2005 & 2006 MMTour, was also with for the
Vegas LOVE weekend.
His funeral took place on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at King David Memorial Chapel in Las Vegas, NV, at 10 a.m. A memorial event will be held in New York sometime this summer.
The Magical History Tour to England is not affiliated with or endorsed by Apple Corps Ltd
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