|VIVA ELVIS OUTFABS THE BEATLES
With the opening of the highly anticipated Cirque Du Soleil now underway, the press launch their reviews
And the bottom line is.....ELVIS IS BACK!
This isn't just a show, it's a glorious celebration of the life of the king of rock 'n' roll. Viva ELVIS is a new genre for Cirque: a splashy, feel-good musical with
circus acts based on the golden oldies recorded by a single, iconic singer. It's nearest comparable would be the Cirque's Beatles show, LOVE, playing down
the street at the Mirage.
Viva ELVIS, however, has a stronger narrative, even though the book is elliptical, assuming that everyone knows the basics of Presley's life story. An actor
(Garrett Eugene Case, Jr.) portraying Colonel Tom Parker fills in biographical details, occasionally, between songs.
Musical director Erich Van Tourneau's approach is argumentative as well as reverential, with sampling, medleys and mash-ups touching on over 40 songs,
while about 20 of them get full-blown numbers.
Viva ELVIS begins, like most Cirque shows, with interactive clowns. Only this time, they're swooning female Elvis fans, clutching their albums, worrying about
their hair. Lights flash as they manage to scramble up on to the stage and tear down the gold-disc imprinted curtain, revealing the man himself on screen
within a giant juke box high above centre stage. A busy dance scene unfolds below. Out comes the pink Cadillac, then the giant blue suede shoe, which
matches the song Elvis is singing.
So much is going on (including fireworks), and Elvis is so magnetic, it's a question of where to look. Up or down? Clearly, one of director Vince Paterson's
biggest challenges was to steal eyes away from the film clips in order to share the focus with the show's 76 dancers, musicians and acrobats. Aerial acts
and large sets (designed by Mark Fisher) that allow performers to work on several levels at once (the Jailhouse Rock prison is almost four storeys high)
even the odds. And he has thrown the show's eight on-stage musicians (a ninth works unseen) right into the action, as characters. They rock, in every
sense of the word.
After the upbeat, dance-happy Don't be Cruel, The Colonel shifts to pensive, talking about Elvis's twin brother Jesse Garon, who died at birth.
This leads into the heart-wrenching One Night With You, enhanced by a stunning aerial act performed by two acrobats on a giant guitar suspended against
a backdrop of stars. The song is sung by a female vocalist (one of four) with Elvis's voice taking over from time to time, a technique used throughout the
From here, the stage is shaken up by All Shook Up and an uplifting Gospel music segment that deserves a great big amen.
Every facet of Presley's musical curiosity is explored. Sometimes the film footage says it all. Tears well up as we see Presley signing up for the army and
waving good-bye to the folks. As a singer offers up Love Me Tender, Elvis-in-uniform seems to respond with that old flirtatious smile.
The marching boot camp number to the tune of Return to Sender is another dance/acrobatic highlight - with a hip-hop edge. All against the backdrop of a
giant American flag with underwear hanging in for stars and stripes.
From army we go to spaghetti western, with giant statues of cowboy Elvis overlooking a campfire scene featuring gun-twirling and impressive lasso tricks.
The medley here includes Blue Moon of Kentucky and Baby What You Want Me To Do.
We are reminded that Elvis was once a hunk of burning movie love by a parade of kiss clips. And the hot, hot bossa nova number turns to circus with a
classic stacking-chairs number that culminates in a single handstand on a champagne bottle. A definite "Wow!" that cleverly brings live action up to
From here on in the show fast-forwards from one eye-popping number to another. King Creole goes reggae and Jailhouse Rock becomes a jailbreak riot
that includes upside-down acrobatics and a dash of Keystone cops.
Erotic pole-dancing takes on a circus twist with Now or Never.
And if there was a dry eye in the house during the Elvis and Priscilla wedding number, Can't Help Falling in Love, it certainly wasn't mine. The sweeping veil,
the towering cake, and the ballet/roller skate dance add up to pure romance.
True, heartbreak follows with Love Me/Don't as two pairs of acrobats fly high within two golden rings, leaving the lonely bride on top of the cake.
The pace picks up again with a Viva Las Vegas number that brings on faux Folies Bergère girls in sparkles, paired with male dancers in Elvis jumpsuits.
Costume designer Stefano Canullli has gone wild here.
A Suspicious Minds pas de deux hits a poignant note before being taken over by yet another show-stopping dance number featuring the jumpsuit guys, now
dripping with fringe.
What, no Hound Dog? It has been saved for the rousing finale - which arrives far too soon. Ninety minutes is not enough. Once again, Elvis leaves us
wanting more. And the Cirque has once again synthesized multiple art forms into a wondrously distinct creation.
Leaving the Elvis Theatre, the magnificent public displays of modern art within the airy architecture of the Aria and the rest of CityCenter suddenly make
sense - as an ornate American jewel case for the heart and soul of the King.
Viva ELVIS continues indefinitely at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. Visit www.cirquedusoleil.com
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LAS VEGAS (Hollywood Reporter) - It's no stretch to say that Elvis Presley doesn't have quite the cultural
hold on recent generations that the Beatles do. Then again, the moptops never owned Vegas like he did.
And could again.
"Viva Elvis," Cirque du Soleil's seventh (!) current show in Sin City, should be an unfettered hit. With the
production's successfully bold musical choices and its sheer size and spectacle, the new Aria Resort &
Casino can rest easy that folks from all over will seek an audience with the King.
Comparisons to Cirque's Beatles show "Love," playing down the Strip at the Mirage, are inevitable. Despite
the inherent similarities, they are very different productions. And "Viva Elvis" is superior.
One reason: There's a somber side to "Love" that "Elvis" never allows. It is pure, celebratory joy from
sock-hop start to nostalgic, nonchronological finish. It's less "serious" and more playful -- yet equally reverent to its subject.
Also, "Love" is focused so clearly on the music, with its remixed and mashed-up Beatles songs. And with speakers embedded in its seat, sound is its
dominant sensory experience; the action onstage is somehow secondary.
Not so with "Elvis." Yes, the King's songs are spun over, under, sideways and down, but this is more a complete show. There is far more dancing than in
other Cirque fare -- not that the troupe's acrobatics are given short shrift -- and the grand stage allows for grand use of Mark Fisher's striking,
sneaky-complex sets. The comfy, couchlike seats arranged in spacious aisles down front are another plus.
Musically, the show's a triumph. Musical director Erich von Tourneau makes smart use of live and recorded tracks, which often are spliced together to let
singers "duet" with Elvis. Other times his vocals are stacked atop clever new arrangements. And the choice to include lesser-known nuggets among the
many standards is inspired. Such hits as "Good Luck Charm" and "Teddy Bear" are bypassed in favor of the lower-profile "Tiger Man," "Got a Lot o' Livin' to
Do" and "One Night of Sin."
Still, the bulk of Elvis' classics are among the three dozen full or truncated songs, most rejiggered for the 21st century. "All Shook Up" becomes a gospel
celebration, "King Creole" gets the dance hall treatment, flamenco guitar spices up "It's Now or Never," and "Jailhouse Rock" is rocked up. A Bo Diddley
beat fuels "Blue Suede Shoes" as a giant prop shoe's laces become uneven parallel bars and its tongue turns into a slide.
Dozens of dancers and gymnast-acrobats are backed by a rock band with a brass section, and nearly every number is memorable.
(A superhero/trampoline piece is entertaining but extraneous and off theme.)
A segment about the King's movie career features some fancy six-gun spinning and showy rope tricks. A second drummer beefed up "Burning Love," which
played over film clips -- mainly of kissing' and flirting'.
The inevitable "Viva Las Vegas" was indeed a showstopper, complete with pyrotechnics, bullwhips and showgirls with the requisite plumage in their
headgear. It and the career-spanning finale montage of film and photos -- from shy kid to mutton-chopped elder statesman -- brought the crowd to its feet.
With the room awash in a shared exuberance, it was a smart decision to leave Elvis' death out of the program. No need to interrupt glee with maudlin
Reminiscent of Cirque''s "Love" premiere in 2006, there was a technical glitch that halted Friday's premiere during the opening number. But it was fixed, and
the 90-minute show went on without further interruption. That's about all one could gripe about, though. "Viva Elvis" is a winner that should play successfully
|INSIDE THE HEART & MIND OF ELVIS
Art, architecture, and Elvis.
Those are the three key elements, beyond gaming, which are meant to draw a whole new
demographic to the just-opened $8.5-billion CityCenter urban development in Las Vegas
- a project that is often described as the biggest gamble ever made in Sin City.
The Cirque du Soleil's Viva ELVIS has had more pressure on it to succeed than any of
the six previous permanent Cirque shows in Las Vegas. And early reports, based on a
premature unveiling of the work in December, were not favourable.
But when the show finally opened at the Aria resort in CityCenter this week, all doubts
were swept away.
Judging from what this reviewer saw at Thursday's preview (the VIP gala was last night),
Viva ELVIS could soon become
the top-selling show in Las Vegas.