LONDON — Get ready for a star-studded spectacular: Olympic Stadium is being transformed into a giant jukebox of British pop and pizazz 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 it “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 said they will take part in a show that will include performances of 30 British hit singles from the last five decades. The Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lennox and Fatboy Slim will 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.
And 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’s inconceivable that there won’t be a bit of Beatles music in a tribute to the best of British pop. And organizers will want to include younger acts such as Tinie Tempah, Jessie J, Emeli Sande and the Kaiser Chiefs.
Organizers said they want the ceremony to be a “cheeky” reflection of modern Britain, so expect touches of Monty Pythonesque humor.
The show won’t 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 chief 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.”
There will be an 8-minute section of song and dance created by the next Summer Games host country, Brazil. Expect samba and some 300 performers, including supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.
And there will be ceremonial elements, including an athletes’ march, the raising of the flags of Greece, birthplace of the Olympics, host Britain and 2016 host Brazil, and the extinguishing of the Olympic cauldron, marking the handover of the games to Rio.