Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elton's Celeb Sitcom in the Works


Jade Wright talks to Sir Elton John about his ECHO arena show.

UNDERSTATED and Sir Elton John are words which rarely go together. And never less so than with his dazzling Vegas-born Red Piano show, which calls at the ECHO arena next week.

The larger-than-life singer has transported the Caesar’s Palace show across the Atlantic and, in his own words, it’s the most extravagant he has ever put on.

“I can’t wait to see how British audiences react to the Red Piano,” says Sir Elton. “The show is stuffed with hits.

“It’s brash, bright and colourful. Over the past four years we have played almost 200 Red Piano shows at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and every single one has been an event – the band and I have had a ball.

“For a long time we have been working towards bringing the show to Europe.

“Finally, last year we brought the Red Piano to the 02 Arena, and what a night that was. So this year we’re going to sprinkle that magic over Liverpool.”

Last time the singer performed in town, at the Summer Pops in 2002, his two and a half hour gig won rave reviews. Dedicated to his Scouse Auntie Rita, it featured songs from across his four decades in pop.

This show promises to be bigger, brighter and, dare I say it, better. And Sir Elton says it’s all down to his red piano. But exactly why it’s red is less clear ...

“The piano is red because when I went to Vegas, I thought ‘I want a red piano’,” he laughs. “Red signifies love. And the show really is about that – it has a lot of songs about love. Love comes up on the screen a lot of times.

“We live in an age, in an era, where there is so much negativity, there is so much violence in the world, that I wanted to promote the word love. So, that's why the red piano came into it.”

The show has been designed by David La Chapelle, and involves an ambitious stage design with video screens and giant inflatable props.

“I really wanted to do something a little bit special, a little bit different, and so I got David LaChapelle, a photographer and a dear friend of mine, to produce the show and design it,” explains Sir Elton.

“At this stage in my career, it was a challenge. I thought, you know, I'm going to go to Vegas. And people will say someone of Elton's age and stature usually ends up there. But it was, I think, 20 years ago that was true and Vegas has changed.

“And I wanted to put on a really different show and a rock 'n' roll show that was like an hour and a half rollercoaster ride.

“Vegas is more exciting now than it's ever been,” he adds. “I was there one night and I was playing and there was Gladys Knight over the road, there was Sting, there was BB King. There were about six or seven other people in town on one night. And there's everything you want to see from Cirque du Soleil right through the blues to R&B, soul.”

Aside from the Red Piano, Sir Elton is working on his own sitcom – about an ageing rock star and the entourage who follow him around.

“I'm kind of executive producing it,” he explains. “It was the idea of one of my people who's been working for me for 30 years, to do a sitcom about the people around a star.

“It's a very funny idea which we pitched to the producers of Desperate Housewives, and they loved it. And Cindy Chupack, who was one of the writers on Sex and the City, is writing it as we speak.”

Married to partner David Furnish for three years, Sir Elton says he’s never been happier.

“I have a lot of energy. I work hard. I have a great partner. I'm in love. I am sober and clean. I lead a healthy lifestyle and I really am blessed and enjoy what I do.”

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