Beatles, Cirque toast their success

It used to be summer reruns were found on TV. Now you have to figure out how to watch them on your computer or shuffle down to the Strip.

Two shows recently threw parties with an eye for generating media attention: “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” and Cirque du Soleil’s “Love.”

Assuming you cared about any of this a year ago, it should ring familiar. That’s because both celebrations were one-year anniversaries.

I skipped the “Phantom” bash and felt fairly blase about the media event for “Love” up through the time I self-parked at The Mirage. It was only when I was really sitting a short distance from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison that I changed my tune: “Sure, it’s a do-over of last year. But it’s still pretty damned impressive. What would you normally be doing on a hot Tuesday afternoon?”

Fellow media wags offer two valid interpretations of this “Groundhog Day” replay. One is that entertainment has so cooled on the Strip — battered by the booming nightclub industry — that even the Beatles understand you have to go the extra mile to flog a show nowadays.

The alternate theory is that “Love” is the rare smash on the Strip. It’s such a cash-spitting ATM of passive revenue for all Beatle interests — no hard touring, no CD piracy to fret — that squirming through an hour interview with Larry King is a small sacrifice to protect the investment.

I believe there is truth in the middle, maybe even room to believe the Beatle folk are actually proud of the show. Moreover, the Beatles and Cirque deserve to toast their success because there has been nothing much to celebrate since.

The debuts of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “The Producers” were themselves a sort of rerun. The Broadway musicals struggle to attract the same level of interest because they aren’t new creations. Likewise “Stomp Out Loud,” which beefed up its production for Vegas but still seems more routine than trailblazing.

And the biggest summer party before Cirque’s? That was a Planet Hollywood rooftop celebration for “The Beauty of Magic.” It offered the singular experience of people raving about the tequila-sauteed shrimp’s ability to wash away the lousy taste of the imitative show.

On one hand, I always say the Strip doesn’t think small enough. I welcomed the retro-styled variety of Wayne Brady, and offbeat experiments such as “Fashionistas” or “Defending the Caveman.” But when it comes time to think big, the choice seems clear: Come up with some bold new show ideas, or watch your mailbox for the invitation to Cirque’s next party.

Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com.

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