Cirque du Soleil
Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 | 1:22 p.m.
After two weeks of fixation and the addition of choreography, the cast of the $100 million Cirque du Soleil spectacular Viva Elvis resumed previews over the weekend.
It gave me the opportunity to acquire a ton more fun facts about the show’s stunning statistics. There are 28 acrobats in the production who hail from eight countries and include gymnasts, circus performers and street entertainers.
Musical director and arranger Erich van Tourneau extracted more than 17,765 examples of Elvis Presley’s singing and speaking voice from 914 albums, 33 full-length films and dozens of old home movies, documentaries and audio recordings.
During rehearsals, every member of the cast went to Graceland, Elvis’ home, and even now they are required up until the premiere to answer weekly written tests about their knowledge of the King of Rock and Roll.
Band members during rehearsals played the mega hit “Love Me Tender” to the track of Elvis’ voice exactly 50 years to the day he first recorded it.
Three items of pure numbers from what you’ll see onstage bowled me over:
*The gigantic blue suede shoe weighs 1,500 pounds and stretches 29 feet long.
*The American flag is made from boxer shorts and has only 48 stars because when Elvis entered military service in 1958, that was a year before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union.
*The “Jailhouse Rock” set weighs 90,000 pounds and measures 40 feet high and 66 feet long.
When I saw a preview show before the break, everybody -- including me -- raved about the sounds of Elvis. It’s an incredible audio experience, and that’s because the sound is delivered through 176 multi-channel speakers, 36 sub-woofers and the largest single-ring fiber-optic transport system anywhere in the world.
The cast has 240 costumes for the production, and that meant 53,000 Swarovski crystal rhinestones, 8,000 printed feathers, 300 pairs of shoes and 130 wigs -- more than any other Cirque show in the world.
One of the major highlights is the “Got a Lot of Living to Do” trampoline set with the comic book superhero characters that was inspired by Elvis’ habit of often renting out a Memphis amusement park afterhours for his exclusive use. The costumes are a tribute to the Marvel comic heroes, which were favorite reading for Elvis as a child.
The oversized sculptures of Elvis as a Marlborough Man cowboy were inspired by an image from the set of Flaming Star, which also inspired Andy Warhol’s famous paintings.
Previews continue tonight, resume again Friday and run until the premiere on Feb. 19. During this time, tickets are discounted 25 percent. There will be no show on Feb. 20 to allow the cast to recuperate from the gala premiere festivities.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.