LAS VEGAS--On its fifth anniversary, Cirque du Soleil's "Love" invited CNET to once again explore its intricate backstage world at The Mirage in Las Vegas from the bowels of the theater to the rigging in the rafters. The "Love" theater is built into the space that was once home to the famed Siegfried and Roy. The show's offices are installed in what was the performers' residence.
The lighting room housing these high-tech lights--capable of projecting beams in any color and multiple shapes--takes up the space that once was home to Siegfried and Roy tiger cages. It took some work to get the smell of the huge beasts out of space before Cirque took possession for its celebration of The Beatles.
Nine lifts to raise and lower artists and set elements in and out of the performance space. This motor-driven, rack-and-pinion lift raises a center stage segment of Love weighing about 22,000 pounds. Engineers had to dig 32 feet down into the desert ground to install it. It provides a force of 150 pounds per square foot and can raise the huge stage at a speed of a foot per second.
To simulate the London Blitz of World War II that coincided with the earliest days of The Beatles' lives, elevated stage segments are covered with more than 2,000 foam bricks built into chimneys and facades. Performers tear the bricks apart during the scene. Once the set piece is removed from the stage, crew members rebuild the cityscape in 15 minutes.
During the show, this fiberglass piano is filled with a soapy formula that allows performers a chance to send "dancing bubbles" up and around the theater. To make the number possible in Las Vegas' dry desert air, the "Love" theater employs a ventilation system that can change the density and flow of air inside the theater specifically for the bubbles.
To guarantee performers' safety, participants in "Love" aerial acts wear specially designed harnesses. Each unit is fitted specifically for the performer in question and connects into the riggings above the stage.
There are more than 600 costume elements, stage, and acrobatic props in "Love." They include luminscent umbrellas and two 32-foot-long remotely manipulated, motor-driven trains adorned with flickering candles.
"Love" features constant movement from one end of the stage to the other. Some are independently driven, like this specially adapted Volkswagen Bug from the "Drive My Car" number. Others are remotely controlled.
Eight automated tracks and trolleys simultaneously move 24 props, set elements, or performers from the riggings above the stage during the show. They provide the production with 140 different ways to put a performer or set piece into the air.