Luxe Life Blog
New Cirque show at CityCenter will be ‘an abstract biography of Elvis’
For the first time, the two Cirque du Soleil directors responsible for the new Elvis Presley show that will open in December in the Aria hotel tower of MGM’s CityCenter have revealed a little of what we can expect.
Vincent Patterson, who has never worked on a Cirque du Soleil project, is conceiving, writing and directing the show.
Vincent said: “This is my first Cirque show. I have never done anything Cirque- or circus-related before. I was an actor/director who became a dancer in my mid 20s, became a choreographer from there, then went on to direct. I have had the wonderful opportunity of playing in a lot of different genres from the music industry to directing operas to shooting music videos and TV shows.
“I have been fortunate enough to play with some amazing superstars -- Madonna and Michael Jackson, to name two of the biggest, so it seems appropriate that Elvis is next in line.”
His collaborator is Armand Thomas, director of creation. Armand explained: “I am the connection with all of the different departments and designers. There’s a lot of interaction. I am a little bit of the dispatcher.”
Vincent jumped in: “Armand makes my life easy by fielding all of the problems and solving any snarls that come up in the paths. He is not only what you would call in Cirque a producer for me, a line producer, but he is also creatively involved. He plays the role of the suit, but he is an artist, as well.”
Armand responded: “What makes my life easy is that I know we share a similar artistic bent, so for me, when I know he gets excited about something, all I want to do is hear about it, then my second reflex after that is, ‘OK, how we are going to put it through the machine?’ ”
Vincent revealed that his show will be an abstract biography of Elvis. (The photo of Elvis with his parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, at Graceland was used by permission from Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.)
Said Vincent: “I am incorporating something that is new to Cirque. I am incorporating acting moments spoken in English, and we will see who was the man, who was the boy, what was the relationship between him and his mother, what was the relationship between him and his manager? In these little ways, we get sparks of who Elvis was as a person inside this spectacle of Cirque perspective of Elvis Presley.
“My first encounter with Elvis was when I was 6 years old, and my Aunt Diane took me into her bedroom in my grandmother’s house because she was like 16 or 17 and she had just bought her first Elvis album. She put it on, and she was just screaming. I thought, ‘What is this about?’ I didn’t understand, I was just a kid. It wasn’t someone of who I was a fan until I started doing the research for this project. I dug into everything I could from movies to books to TV shows to appearances. I read other people’s works. I looked into documentaries.
“Basically, I have so much respect for this man now. Yes, there is the bigness of Elvis Presley, but he was human, he was just like you and me. … And it just happened that the spotlights of the world, the searchlights of Hollywood, so to speak, came down and focused on him. “
Armand summed up: “We like to say that this is the kind of show that looks like him. It is going to be energetic, sexy, funny with his kind of humor. It is going to be bold and fantastic. I know I am biased, but I really believe that.”
The show will feature the familiar Cirque elements of acrobatics, but there will also be dancers and guitarists in the band. One of the dancers is on familiar turf in Las Vegas: Chris Houston, who worked with Celine Dion at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace and on her world tour. He has the role of Elvis Presley’s father, Vernon.
The entire cast of the new Elvis show has now settled in Las Vegas, and next week final rehearsals get underway. Vegas DeLuxe will follow this story leading up to the December premiere. Click HERE for our coverage by Editor Don Chareunsy when members of the troupe arrived from Montreal on Aug. 8.
MGM CityCenter head honcho Bobby Baldwin and Priscilla Presley have seen a preview of the show in Montreal at Cirque headquarters and enthusiastically gave it a thumbs-up.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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