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terça-feira, 8 de dezembro de 2009

First look: Cirque du Soleil's 'Viva ELVIS' is larger than life

By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY
LAS VEGAS — Elvis is back in the building.

Swiveling, laughing, crooning and goofing, the King of Rock 'n' Roll explodes to life on a massive screen here in the new Aria Resort & Casino's Elvis Theater. Below this video clip of Presley, 40-some dancers and acrobats with blue loafers on their hands vamp through a Blue Suede Shoesretooled for the times – Elvis' voice laid over a thunderous romp that respectfully teases the original.

Having tackled The Beatles with LOVE, Canada's Cirque du Soleil takes on an American musical icon with Viva ELVIS. The show is unveiled to the public Dec. 18, two days after Aria opens in The Strip's newly built CityCenter district.

Rehearsals reveal a production that aims both to please die-hards (the nearly 30 songs feature Elvis on vocals) and seduce newcomers (the music is modernized and the sets are spectacle writ large).

"Our responsibility was to develop something that would look like what Elvis might do were he performing now," says executive producer Stephane Mongeau."It's not a show about Elvis. It's a show with him."

Unlike LOVE, which mates the Fab Four's whimsy with acrobatics, Elvis' straight-ahead canon necessitated an emphasis on music rather than circus.

"The driver here is Elvis' songs," says Mongeau, who notes that while LOVE uses snippets of 160 tunes, Viva ELVIS lingers on legendary hits such as I Want You, I Need You, I Love You and Suspicious Minds.

The talent pool assembled for this production is varied and impressive, including set designer Mark Fisher (the architect behind U2's innovative 360 Tour set) and choreographer Vincent Paterson (who has worked with Michael Jackson and Madonna).

"My goal is to give Elvis a Vegas comeback," says Paterson, the show's director.

It has been more than three decades since Elvis sold out the nearby Hilton Hotel. Today, seeing Elvis means hearing impersonators who freeze the icon in a bygone era. That irks Priscilla Presley, whose ex-husband would have turned 75 next month: "We have to keep Elvis in our times, not in the past."

She welcomed the young cast (many of whom were born after Elvis' death in 1977) to Graceland last spring to share personal stories about the man behind the myth. But an affinity already existed.

"Cirque du Soleil is known for taking risks, as Elvis was," she says. "But if I'm happiest about anything, it's the decision they made to let Elvis himself do the singing."


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