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Thursday, September 16, 1999 Published at 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK


Gabriel rocks the Dome

The Queen will see the show on New Year's Eve

The BBC's Nick Higham gives us a glimpse of the Millennium show
Rock legend Peter Gabriel has hosted a special preview of the spectacular show he's planning to stage daily in the Millennium Dome.

An invited audience was treated to a five-minute taster of what the organisers promise will be a 28-minute music and dance extravaganza for the year 2000.

Peter Gabriel: Full of energy
The Millennium Show will be performed three to five times a day at the Dome in Greenwich, in south east London, throughout 2000.

It features a cast of 160 young performers from across the UK. They tell a story of a family divided by internal conflict in a show stuffed with death-defying aerial acrobatics, music and dance.

Millions of pounds are being spent on the Dome, which is meant to be a showcase for the best of Britain in the new Millennium.

Dome challenge

Gabriel, 49, who has also written the string and guitar soundtrack to the show, said that he was attracted by the challenge of devising a show for "the least popular project in the country".

[ image: Peter Gabriel: The inspiration behind the show]
Peter Gabriel: The inspiration behind the show
But, he added, that it was also great to get involved because it was exciting and new.

"I'm doing something that I've never done before - both looking towards a whole range of folk references and then looking forward to the future," he enthused.

British architect Mark Fisher has been helping Gabriel create the extravangaza.

Fisher knows his stuff - he has an impressive background, creating spectacular stage shows for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2.

[ image: A computer-generated graphic of the Dome's Millennium Show]
A computer-generated graphic of the Dome's Millennium Show
He said: "There have been immense challenges connected to creating such an emotional and powerful show."

One of the breath-taking manoeuvres will feature cast members hurtling down from the top of the Dome on bungee stilts - a height of some 150ft.

Their vibrant costumes will be a mix of of tribal and futuristic influences.

Optimistic message

"The message at the show is that our social and technical experiences of life come in cycles and the millennium marks the moment to be optimistic about the future," said Fisher.

[ image: Aerial acrobatics: Just three months of practise to go]
Aerial acrobatics: Just three months of practise to go
Dome organisers, the New Millennium Experience Company, added: "Fisher and Gabriel have created a timeless piece of visual story-telling, a contemporary fable.

"This is the story of a family in transition, each generation struggling with the coming and the passing of their own time."

There will be two casts and two principals for each role in the show.

The principals will be skilled performers from the worlds of theatre, ballet, circus, opera and contemporary dance.

Before embarking on their year-long efforts for visitors to the Dome, the same team will perform a one-off show on New Year's Eve when the audience of 10,000 will include the Queen and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

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