Originally published on Advocate.com January 30 2004 1:00 AM ET
Fab Four may sub for Siegfried and Roy
The Yellow Submarine soon may sail into the Mirage casino in Las Vegas, replacing the closed Siegfried & Roy show with a Beatles-scored Cirque du Soleil spectacle, people familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday. The move at MGM Mirage's signature resort would mark the next wave of a new British invasion of the desert entertainment capital. Caesars Entertainment Inc's Paris Hotel and Casino is expected to announce next month that it will open by the end of the year a $13 million edition of the Queen-scored musical We Will Rock You as its resident show, other people familiar with those plans said. Elton John begins a three-year 75-show contract on February 13 to fill in for Celine Dion at Caesars Palace, another Caesars property, and London-based Mamma Mia! has been a hit for Mandalay Resort Group's Mandalay Bay resort since opening about a year ago. The Venetian Hotel and Casino, owned by Las Vegas Sands Inc., is in talks to install a permanent Phantom of the Opera show in 2005, a source close to the hotel said.
The Beatles' company, Apple Corp. Inc., confirmed in 2001 that a Cirque show in London was under consideration, but Beatle George Harrison, who was friends with Cirque chief executive Guy Laliberte, died shortly after that announcement, and the show never materialized. Cirque said there was no deal for a Las Vegas Beatles show and declined to comment further. It's unclear whether the Mirage show would stick to the 1968 Yellow Submarine psychedelic cartoon film's soundtrack or use other Beatles music as well, the sources said. MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said it was "fairly likely" that Cirque would fill the showroom left vacant when an on-stage tiger mauling in October critically injured illusionist Roy Horn and forced the permanent closure of the Siegfried & Roy magic show. MGM and Cirque have a joint-venture agreement, and the Yellow Submarine show would become the fifth concurrent Cirque production on the Las Vegas strip. O and Mystere are longtime hits, Zumanity has just opened at New York New York, and another show debuts this summer at the MGM Grand. "The Cirque shows all stand on their own," said Feldman, who said other possibilities are still being considered for the Mirage. The gambling and resort giant also has been mulling a Cirque-themed casino on the Las Vegas strip, and Feldman said there is no limit. "How many great Irving Berlin songs are there? Are we ever concerned that we have too many?"
The Queen show at Paris Las Vegas began in London and has done well internationally. It strings together 25 Queen hits into a futuristic narrative about a rebellion against a world where music is outlawed. The show is being produced in the United States by Tribeca Entertainment, the New York-based company founded by actor Robert De Niro. A Tribeca spokeswoman said it is premature to discuss the Las Vegas deal.
Cirque du Soleil is currently facing legal action from Matthew Cusick, a performer who was fired as an acrobat because of his HIV-positive status. The company acknowledged that Cusick was dismissed based on his HIV status but claimed that it was within its rights to do so.