“Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle, the creative director behind the opening ceremonies, and “Billy Elliot” director Stephen Daldry, who is the creative director for the Olympics, have even come up with a hashtag to try to stop all the leaks on Twitter in the past few days: #savethesurprise.
Good luck with that, guys. However, after a dress rehearsal Monday night for an audience of 60,000 lucky guests and another one today, you knew at least some of them are camera-phone wielding, Facebooking-and-Tweeting folks. So we know stuff now.
(If you don't want to know what's in store, STOP READING HERE. Oh wait! You should know that I'll be live-blogging the opening ceremonies telecast here on Pop Cult starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Also, Books Editor Tom Beer, Food Writer Erica Marcus and I will be staging an Olympics coup here on Pop Cult throughout the games, offering our non-sporty takes on the London events. Come join us! OK, those who don't want spoilers, NOW STOP READING.)
By all accounts, Boyle has created a $42 million spectacle called “Isles of Wonders” based on Shakespeare's “The Tempest.” Someone (maybe Kenneth Branagh?) will read Caliban's speech, where he says “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”
And then, apparently, we're off to the races. It will reportedly tell the history of England and its influence on the world. According to people at the rehearsals, there will be moshpits, James Bond, scenes depicting the rise of the Industrial Revolution (!) and a tribute to the National Health Service, which provides free health care to everyone in Great Britain. Voldemort from the “Harry Potter” books may or may not do battle with an army of Mary Poppinses. (Yes, I know how that sounds.)
While the rehearsal didn't feature the musicians who may or may not perform at the opening ceremony, songs from The Beatles, The Clash (“London Calling,” I'm guessing), David Bowie and Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire,” natch) were used. Presumably, Underworld, who Boyle signed on to develop music for the opening ceremonies, will unveil some new music, and there's reportedly a tribute to grime featuring Dizzee Rascal's “Bonkers” and Tinie Tempah's “Pass Out.” The rumored finale is Sir Paul McCartney leading a global sing-along of “Hey Jude.”
The whole event is supposed to take about three and a half hours, meaning Macca will likely be singing live in London when the American broadcast starts on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET.