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2006-Jun-30: Love in Las Vegas

It was the first time that the extended Beatle family has ever appeared together in public. This evening Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr joined the widows and children of John Lennon and George Harrison at the opening night of the Beatles “Love” Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. John Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia, was also there with her son, Julian.

This evening 4,000 guests were invited to two private performances of the star-studded shows and after-party . The show features filmed footage of The Beatles, acrobatics, dancers and 130 digitally enhanced and remixed Beatles songs and conversations. The production is staged in the Mirage’s new $130 million circular theater that seats just over 2,000. It contains huge 100 ft screens and over 4,000 speakers – including several in every seat back.

At the end of the show, Sir Paul, Ringo, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison and Sir George Martin surprised guests by appearing on-stage with the cast, circling the round platform flashing peace signs. Sir Paul shouted, "For George and John!" then hugged Yoko and Olivia.

Ringo said afterwards: "It was emotional because two of us aren't here. That really came home watching this."

London's Mirror reports that a guest at the after-show party observed Ringo's concern for his friend Sir Paul:

"They threw their arms around each other - it was lovely to see. Ringo asked him 'Are you all right?' and Paul replied 'I'm fine'. Ringo seemed really concerned and said 'Are you sure?' Paul smiled at him, touched his arm and said 'I'll be all right'."

This was Sir Paul's first public appearance since his separation from Heather. One observer noted that the warm reception he received from his fans as he walked down the red carpet seemed to lift his mood.

Sir Paul and Ringo were joined by George's widow Olivia, John's widow Yoko Ono and his first wife Cynthia, all of whom served as consultants for the production. Sir George Martin's son Giles said that everything went smoothly:

"They all have their differences but they all genuinely wanted the same thing - for the show to do justice to the music. It's been great for them as it's got them talking and opened channels of communication."

Yoko said: "I think the show is beautiful, amazing. And John would have thought the same."

Olivia Harrison added that the old rivalries have died down in recent years:

"We all got together at George's memorial. No one ignored anyone and it was all very civil. There's so much shared history now that we do also have a shared respect."

John's son Julian Lennon confirmed that working on the show had helped to bring the band and their families closer together:

"It's really beautiful to have all the families here - it's like a reunion. I saw Paul and we gave each other a big hug."

During the festivities in Las Vegas, Yoko Ono took the opportunity to speak out in support of Heather Mills McCartney:

"I feel very bad for her. I know better than anyone what it's like being a Beatle wife, nobody gives you an easy time. Whatever happened in their marriage I don't know. But it must be very hard for her as well as Paul. When I heard about the split I was really sad. The thing I keep remembering is how, just before Heather gave birth to her and Paul's daughter, he told me how happy he was. He actually said, 'I feel like I've been given a second life. They were really in love and it's very sad it hasn't worked out."

Although Sir Paul and Ringo didn't pause for the press on the red carpet, some of their friends did. Eric Idle told reporters:

"It’s an historic night and I’m so old, I feel historic too."

Will he invite Sir Paul and Ringo to the opening of his "Spamalot" in Las Vegas next March?

"Good point, very good point! But I’ll probably just get The Ruttles."

George Harrison and Cirque creator Guy Laliberte conceived the idea for the show in 1997, four years before George's’s death. Mr. Laliberte told reported on the red carpet:

"This project is one of emotion. 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. We shared an emotion, we shared a vision. We dreamed about this night."

Yoko Ono:

"Yes, John, Richard, Olivia and I were all very involved in the production and in picking the songs 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. All this time when I was working on this show in the rehearsals, I thought 'Oh, John should be here,' That's the only thing that I regret, the fact that he's not here, because he would have enjoyed it so much."

Sir George Martin did not quite agree with Yoko:

"John? Who knows about John? If he saw the show, he'd probably say: 'Yeah but it could be better.' John was never satisfied with anything that he ever did in his life. In his mind, he had a dream world which could not be realized."

After both performances, Sir Paul, Ringo, Olivia and Yoko ran on-stage together and waved to the standing and wildly applauding audience. Sir Paul shouted, “John and George, this is for you!”

Backstage, Sir Paul was seen giving Yoko a kiss.

At the party following the shows, Sir Paul, Ringo, and his wife Barbara Bach were spotted chatting with George's musical mentor Ravi Shankar in the roped-off, elevated VIP area. Later Sir Paul and Ringo shared a table, memories and laughs with Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, and Cynthia Lennon.

"Love" is expected to run two-times a night, five nights per week for at least 10 years.

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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