Love, Love, Love. Love is all you need
Two of the Fab Four - Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr - and the widows and children of John Lennon and George Harrison got a little help from their friends at the opening night of the Beatles "Love" Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
An estimated 5,000 people came to Friday's star-studded shows and the seemingly endless after-party that started after the 7:30 show and didn't slow down until hours after the 10:30 show ended. Guests enjoyed two back-to-back psychedelic multi-media performances featuring footage of the mop tops, astonishing acrobatics, exuberant dancers and 130 digitally enhanced and remixed Beatles songs and conversations, staged in the Mirage's new circular theatre. The theatre cost about $130 million, seats just over 2,000, and includes huge 100 ft screens and over 4,000 speakers â€“ including several in every seat back â€“ that make you feel as if John, Paul, George and Ringo are singing within you and without you.
Paul and Ringo posed for photos but didn't pause to talk to press on the red carpet Friday night. Hey, they're Beatles. They don't do press lines. But the invited guests sure did.
"It's an historic night," proclaimed Eric Idle of Monty Python fame, a close friend of the late Harrison and Lennon and the other surviving Beatles. "And I'm so old, I feel historic too." He joked that he came to "check out the competition. We're opening "SpamAlot" here next March, just up the street."
Will he ask his Beatles pals to come to his premiere? "Good point, very good point! But I'll probably just get The Ruttles."
Blondie's Deborah Harry wore a tres Vegas sparkly bright orange mini-dress. Also walking the carpet were Beatles fans Virginia Madsen, Billy Crystal, supermodel Lauren Hutton, Helen Mirren, Megan Mullally, Gina Gershon, Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland, designer Roberto Cavalli, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, SNL's Kevin Nealon, Jason Patric, "Seinfeld"'s balding Kramer (say it isn't so!) Michael Richards, and Vegas headliners Wayne Brady, Cris Angel, Carrot Top and Robert Goulet. Or it might have been a Goulet impersonator. Very hard to tell in this town.
Even Siegfried and - miraculously - Roy, who still looks dazed and smiles a little lopsided after that nasty white tiger bite, came to show their support for the act that will take their place at the Mirage for the next decade.
Rod Argent, Sheila E. and Edgar Winter - members of Ringo's (fyi: pals privately call him Richard) All Starr Band playing in concert the next night at the Mandalay Bay - couldn't contain their enthusiasm.
"Ringo is super-excited about it! We all are!" raved Winter. "Mixing the Beatles music with a Cirque performance? It just doesn't get any better than this!"
Argent was also jazzed. "I just spoke to Andrew Lloyd Weber who saw a preview last week and he said it's fantastic!"
Even a stone-faced Steven (Little Stevie, wearing his E Street Band trademark headscarf) Van Zandt, who had just (literally fifteen minutes earlier) signed the contract for four more final season episodes of "The Sopranos", sounded upbeat.
"The Beatles set the standard for pop music and the Cirque set the standard for live performances in Vegas," said Van Zandt. "Hopefully, this will keep Beatle music alive and turn more people on to their songs."
It definitely was an historic night: this was the first time the extended Beatles clan has ever appeared together in public. But it was also a very emotional night. It had been Harrison's last wish that the Beatles would work jointly on the project he and Cirque creator Guy Laliberte conceived in 1997, four years before Harrison's death.
"This project is one of emotion," Laliberte said on the red carpet. "It was George's dream to have all the Beatles work together creatively one more time. When he passed on, it became important to everyone to make it happen."
Even the Beatles widows got into the act....
Photo Credits: Sir Paul McCartney, Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono, Barbara Bach and Richard Starkey flash the peace sign and share the love at the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.
WireImage: Kevin Mazur
"Yes, John, Richard, Olivia and I were all very involved in the production and in picking the songs," said Ono, clad in a white pantsuit with rhinestone glasses, false eyelashes and an enormous white hat. "And I think we are all very happy. And surprise, surprise, we all agreed on everything. The only thing I regret is that John is not here. He would have loved this."
The old rifts over estates and control definitely looked mended. After both performances, Paul, Ringo, Olivia and Yoko ran onstage together and waved to the standing and wildly applauding audience. McCartney shouted, "John and George, this is for you!"
Backstage, McCartney even hugged and kissed Ono, whom he's barely spoken to since she was publicly blamed by fans for the band's breakup. And everyone â€“ including Beatles producer George Martin, his son Giles, and Love director Dominic Champagne posed proudly for a group shot.
Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, whom he'd left for Ono, was also included in the evening's festivities. She and her son, Julian Lennon, stayed for the after-party that went on into the wee hours inside the Mirage's huge Events Center. Julian and George's son Djhani Harrison smiled and hugged for photographers, looking eerily like clones of their famous fathers when they were young.
Starkey (Ringo's real last name) and his wife, actress Barbara Bach, who were bunking for the weekend in a luxurious 1,400 ft. Mirage villa, (just $3,500 a night) relaxed after the second show with McCartney and Harrison's musical mentor Ravi Shankar on white couches in the roped-off, elevated VIP area.
The party kept the Love theme going with spectacular Cirque lighting, projected images and waitresses dressed like Lovely Rita Meter Maids. Their thankless task was to gather up all the empty plates from the estimated 5,000 guests wandering and grazing at the thirty food booths serving delicacies from Vegas's top thirty restaurants.
"It's like an enormous food court," noted one guest. One can't help but feel that keeping the food court concept going would definitely ensure the show's ongoing success. Hey, it's still Vegas, baby and those aging boomers do 'Love' to eat, even after a satisfying first course of '60s nostalgia.
Photo Credits: Sir Paul gropes Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, backstage at the Love premiere in Vegas. Talk about mending fences. Hey, where's that one legged gal, what's her name... Heather? Nowhere to be seen and no one even mentioned her name. Ouch.
Photo Credits: Julian Lennon and Djhani Harrison - the sons of John and George - celebrate at the Mirage's big Love after party, looking astonishingly like their departed dads.