Cirque du Soleil
's twenty-sixth show and seventh Las Vegas effort ran from 2010-2012 at the Aria Resort and Casino.
The quick-and-dirty summary would be "The Beatles LOVE
with Elvis Presley
's life and songs substituted for those of the Fab Four", but Viva Elvis
is more akin to a traditional Jukebox Musical
in its structure and staging. It unfolds on a proscenium stage rather than an in-the-round (or rectangle, to be specific) setup. While Elvis's own vocals are used throughout, they are backed up by onstage female vocalists — who get solo turns on several occasions — and a live band, whereas all of LOVE
's music was prerecorded. Perhaps most importantly, where LOVE
is heavily metaphorical and draws many of its onstage characters from the songs of the Beatles, Viva Elvis
is more straightforward.
An actor playing "Colonel" Tom Parker (Elvis's manager) guides us through scenes representing Elvis's Southern upbringing and musical influences, rise to stardom, military service, return to the U.S., Hollywood career, relationship with wife Priscilla, and finally his late-in-life stretch as a Vegas headliner. The setup allows for a good deal of Cirque whimsy and grace nonetheless, from a pair of acrobats twirling upon a guitar in the starry sky representing Elvis and his stillborn twin brother Jesse, to Elvis's love of comic books inspiring a trampoline romp.
A segment from this show was incorporated into the 3-D Movie Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
in 2012. Compare All Shook Up
, a Broadway Jukebox Musical
built around Presley's songs.
This show contains examples of:
- Also Sprach Zarathustra: Turns up in the aural montage of Elvis excitement that heralds the show's start.
- Broken Streak: This is the seventh of Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas "resident" productions — and the first one to close.
- Dramatic Curtain Toss: See Squee below.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Viva Las Vegas".
- Elvis Impersonator: A parody of one (on stilts) made it to the previews, but was subsequently dropped.
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers: For the showgirls in the finale, in the best old-Vegas tradition.
- Gospel Revival Number: The "All Shook Up" and "Saved" scenes.
- Incendiary Exponent: Rope-spinning tricks are even cooler when the lasso's on fire!
- Montage: Whole musical numbers underscore montages of Elvis's career highpoints (such as "Burning Love" for Elvis's many onscreen romances). Other montages provide backdrops to acrobatic/dance numbers, such as a chair balancing act set to "Bossa Nova Baby".
- The Narrator: "Colonel" Tom Parker. The fact that a guy regarded as a Treacherous Advisor at Elvis's own trope page is serving this role and portrayed purely positively is just one sign of a...
- Rose Tinted Narrative: This is strictly the Elvis Presley Enterprises-sanctioned telling of his life, so obesity, drug abuse, etc. aren't brought up at all...but Tropes Are Not Bad; the point of the show is celebrating his life.
- Squee: 1950s-era Elvis fangirls circulate among the ground-floor seats before the show starts — as the aural montage kicks in, they squee like crazy, make their way onstage, and in their excitement pull down the curtain to start the show.
- Spiritual Successor: To The Beatles LOVE.