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Press Conference in Las Vegas: Cirque du Soleil's 'Viva Elvis' Previewed

Press Conference in Las Vegas: Cirque du Soleil's 'Viva Elvis' Previewed

Tuesday was another of MGM Mirage's days to show off their new City Center complex. But the day's main attraction was Viva Elvis, the new Cirque du Soleil offering in the Aria Hotel and Casino. This show follows in the spirit of Love, Cirque's Beatles piece and was, those at the press conference today said, three years in the making.

The event was attended by MGM Mirage officials, along with those who have worked on the show: Guy Laliberté : Artistic Guide and Founder, Cirque du Soleil; Robert FX Sillerman: Chairman & CEO, CKX Inc; Priscilla Presley: Founder of EPE Inc. and Board of Directors of CKX Inc.; Gilles Ste-Croix: Artistic Guide and Senior Vice-President - Creative Content and Development of New Projects, Cirque du Soleil; Vincent Paterson, Writer, Director and Co-Choreographer, Cirque du Soleil.

All, of course, are thrilled with the project. Sillerman, who in 2004 bought 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) and formed the new company, CKX, Inc., to manage the property, said, "When we acquired EPE, the first thing I hought was 'we have to return Elvis Presley to Las Vegas' " and the only way to do so was with Cirque. 

"Ours," he added, "is a partnership born out of majesty." He said that, as Elvis was unique, so is Priscilla, "the one person in the world who married Elvis Presley. This [show] could not have taken place without Priscilla Prresley."

When it was her turn to speak, Presley talked about the "anxiety" Elvis felt upon opening in Las Vegas. When she was approached by Cirque about the show, she said they brought to the project a "unique, wonderful, abstract way of realizing the vision."

When she went to Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Canada and saw "the costumes, the wigs, the imaginzation," she was convinced.

The show is a mixed media piece employing photos, videos, remastered Elvis tracks, live dancers, acrobats, musicians and actors. The only male voice heard singing is Elvis'. The sets are fanciful and and Junior Clay, an actor portraying Elvis' manager Col. Tom Parker, provides the narrative thread. Director Vincent Patterson has worked with Madonna and Michael Jackson and the fanciful staging reflected the joy evident in their work, too.

The press was treated to a few numbers but reminded that this show is a work in progress. It is also, by the way, one of only two Cirque du Soleil shows here that employs a proscenium stage, rather than a theater-in-the-round experience.

The first number today was Blue Suede Shoes. It was dominated by video of Elvis — framed by a giant juke box — performing the song on various TV shows. There were lots of squealing girls and, even, an Elvis on stilts (this is Cirque du Soleil, after all). Next up was the out-and-out sexy number One Night. Only here it was sung by a woman softly singing at a piano while two men did acrobatics on an abstract guitar set high in the sky (picture above). I was told they represent Elvis and the twin brother who died at birth.

We saw Got A Lotta Livin' To Do and (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care performed by the chorus and dancers following what seems to be de riguer with Cirque — a scene with an umbrella motif. Then there was a woman who sang All Shook Up with a gospel kind of feel at the beginning.

It is well worth noting that the Viva Elvis theater is stunning. The front rows are like lounges — or car seats before the advent of center consoles — and the mood is very relaxed. The sound is up to the very high standard set by Cirque and the few sets and effects we saw were lovely.


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