The Beatles Continue to “Hold Your Hand” and Touch Your Wallet By Christopher G. Axelrod May 16, 2014 at 12:16 am The Beatles broke up in 1970. Only two of the original band members are still living, and occasionally recording and touring. The band is considered to be a 1960’s phenomenon, yet its music and personalities enjoy widespread, loyal fan support today. So perhaps it’s not surprising that there are two successful, yet quite different, Beatles-related productions in Las Vegas. Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles “Love” production at the Mirage, now celebrating its eighth year, remains one of Cirque’s best-selling Las Vegas shows. The large and colorful production takes place in a large theater, with in-the-round seating. The emphasis is on humanizing the many characters and styles from classic Beatles songs. Tickets range from $79 to $180, plus customary fees. The Mirage also offers one of the grandest show-themed gift shops currently on the Strip, along with a large themed lounge. The other production is a late afternoon matinee entitled “Beatleshow!”, presented at the Saxe Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood. The venue is a very attractive and active one, well-centered in a large retail shopping mall. The Saxe Theater also presents “Vegas! The Show”, nightly; Nathan Burton’s magic show; and more. Its daily challenge is the competition for the tourist shopping dollars that are needed to sustain a theater of this quality. The non-stop stage is is successful in attracting the impulse shopper who wants a beverage and a break. Tickets range from $60 to $70. Both productions have consistent sales and appeal to all generations, yet they have entirely different concepts and viewpoints. Cirque du Soleil’s production expands the mind and senses through its dynamic visual and audio effects, in an over-the-top experience that is consistent with the known marquee of Cirque’s productions. The show at the Saxe Theater is more of a live tribute concert, spanning the many creative times of this legendary band. It is interspersed with comedic characters ranging from a spirited Beefeater Royal Guardsman to Ed Sullivan, and from Austin Powers (complete with go-go dancers) to a pot-revering hippie. It is light-hearted and intimate, in a 500-seat, stadium-style venue. Both shows evidence the timeless power of this iconic brand. Patrons know all the songs and sing along without encouragement. The boomers both nap and clap to music from a variety of eras. The younger fans are more curious about the creative drive behind these four Liverpool lads, who performed in a non-digital era. They also delight in watching older fans participating, rejuvenated. All ages are smiling as they exit the theater. At the Saxe Theater, the different generations are cheerfully united as they are herded into the merchandise sales area to get their photo taken with the lookalike performers. That two varied productions about the same entertainment icon can co-exist on the Strip shows the power of this brand’s universal appeal, one that has withstood the test of time. The Beatles’ many images and music, more than most other well-known pop artists, evoke strong feelings. Perhaps the wide range of fans comes from The Beatles changing their images and music as they matured, creating a wider range of music than most artists. With their early Edwardian clean-cut introduction, the ultra-psychedelic era of Sergeant Pepper, and their global peacemaking and drug voice ending in the Vietnam War era, the band appeals to a much broader, multi-generational fan base compared to that of more consistent personas such as Elvis and Sinatra.