OK, so I caved.
I spent $50 to change my airplane ticket so I could stay in Las Vegas for 10 more hours and see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr live and in person.
What does this have to do with theater, you might ask? Well, not a whole lot, except that the Fab Two were in Vegas to celebrate the first anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show, Love, and to dedicate two plaques in the Love theater lobby to their comrades, John Lennon and George Harrison.
And my reaction to seeing the two of them was downright theatrical.
Paul and Ringo were in Vegas along with Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison to dedicate the plaques, do a Live With Larry King and attend the first-anniversary performance of Love.
I couldn’t stay to see Love again (I do have to show up at the Sentinel every now and then). And I kept telling myself that I might see them for only five minutes, or from an audience of 2,000 people, or maybe not at all.
Good news. Turns out that the dedication was open only to a few VIPs and the press — and that the evil TV photographers were banished to the back, so that those of us with low-tech pens and notebooks got to sit in the second row — maybe 10 feet from the stage. So there I was with my theater-critic friend Chris, next to celebrity hanger-on Robin Leach, with George Harrison’s son Dhani in front of us and legendary producer George Martin’s son Giles, who helped his father remix all the music for Love, next to him.
First to turn up on the tiny stage was Larry King in what looked like Vegas-gangster garb (black shirt, red tie and suspenders), who spoke for just a moment but managed to put his foot in his mouth big time.
“We’re honoring John Lennon and George Hamilton,” he said. When most of us reporters and photographers gasped, he asked, “Why is that funny?”
He then went on to crucify the name of the other guy onstage, Guy Laliberte, who happens to have founded Cirque du Soleil and was basically the reason we were there.
Laliberte introduced Paul and Ringo, who strolled onto the stage 10 feet in front of us. Then Paul looked at me. Granted, he looked away immediately, as I’m sure wildly famous people are wont to do when wildly unfamous people are staring at them. But for the rest of my life I can say that Paul McCartney looked at me.
As for the rest of my 15-minute brush with fame, what came across was how funny the two remaining Beatles are — and how gracious.
“It’s an honor for me to do this today,” Ringo said in his little tribute to George. “It’s not really a great pleasure because I’d prefer the man were here before me. George was a great musician, and he was a dear friend. I love him and I miss him and wherever he is, I’m sure he’s smiling right now.”
“Thank you, Richard,” Paul said to him.
“Call me Ringo,” replied he. “We’re in public.”
McCartney called his late comrades “magnificent men,” and Yoko Ono, in thanking him, said, “John would be happy that another magnificent man introduced him.”
Then Paul put his arm around her — indicating either that bygones are bygones or that they’re both really good actors.
“That’s not a plaque,” McCartney said. “I was expecting a plaque.”
Then it was time for pictures, and then off to another room to do the Larry King show. King managed to baffle everybody one more time by telling a long story that had something to do with Miami and nothing to do with the Beatles. A seemingly befuddled McCartney stared at him all the while. Afterwards, Dhani Harrison said to Giles Martin, “Larry King. Check him out. He looks like Shrek.”
(AP photos/Jae C. Hong)