Get ready for a star-studded spectacular: Olympic Stadium is being transformed into a giant jukebox of British pop and pizzazz tonight for the closing ceremonies of the London Games.
The Spice Girls and The Who are among the acts prepping performances to celebrate the end of the Olympics. Although organizers have tried to keep the ceremony under wraps, many details have leaked out in the British media — and some of the performers have let the cat out of the bag themselves.
Director David Arnold is calling the production “the greatest after-party in the world.”
“If the opening ceremony was the wedding, then we’re the wedding reception,” Arnold told the Daily Telegraph.
The Who, George Michael, Muse and Ed Sheeran have all said they will take part in a show that is to include performances of 30 British hit singles from the past five decades.
The Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lennox and Fatboy Slim are also said be on hand to get people dancing.
Tips and photos have emerged from the rehearsal venue, an old car plant in east London.
The Spice Girls were photographed dancing atop black London taxis, so a rendition of their biggest hit, Wannabe, seems possible.
So does an appearance by surviving members of Queen, whose We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions have been ever-present at the Games.
Ray Davies of The Kinks is tipped to perform his majestic London ballad Waterloo Sunset.
Paul McCartney has already performed at the opening ceremony, but it is inconceivable that there will not be a bit of Beatles music in a tribute to the best of British pop.
Organizers also want to include younger acts such as Tinie Tempah, Jessie J, Emeli Sande and the Kaiser Chiefs.
Organizers have said they want the ceremony to be a “cheeky” reflection of modern Britain, so expect touches of Monty Pythonesque humor — perhaps even Python Eric Idle leading a mass rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
The Daily Mail newspaper published photographs of what it said was the set, involving reconstructions of London landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge.
The show is bound not to be short on spectacle. Director Kim Gavin has overseen tours for the band Take That and directed London’s 2007 Princess Diana memorial concert. Designer Es Devlin has created sets for everyone from Lady Gaga to the Royal Opera.
As with director Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, London is aiming for a plucky, irreverent tone far removed from Beijing’s 2008 Olympic closer, which was heavy on precision displays of fireworks, acrobatics and dancing.
“It’s not anything desperately profound,” London Games boss Sebastian Coe said.
“It’s not the opening ceremony, but I think it will be great. It’s basically a tribute to British music over the last few decades. It’s fun,” he added.
There will also be an 8-minute section of song and dance created by the next Summer Games host country, Brazil. Expect samba, colorful costumes and about 300 performers, including supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.
Of course there will be ceremonial elements, including an athletes’ march, the raising of the flags of Greece — birthplace of the Olympics — current host Britain and 2016 Games host Brazil, speeches and the extinguishing of the Olympic cauldron, marking the handover of the games to Rio.
Smaller parties are popping up all around the Olympics to mark the end of the games, too.