Published August 11, 2012
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 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 will include performances of 30 British hit singles from the past five decades. The Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lennox and Fatboy Slim will also 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 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 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 also be an 8-minute section of song and dance created by the next Summer Games host country, Brazil. Expect samba, colorful costumes and some 300 performers, including supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.
And 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. A lucky elite will take to the water for festivities on yachts.
Nearly a dozen of the world's most luxurious vessels, including the 413-foot (126-meter) Octopus, owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, are docked in east London near the Olympic site.
"It's going to be a big party, no doubt," said Benjamin Sutton, director of communications for "superyacht concierge service" MGMT. "Security is tight."
On land, Olympic sponsors such as Adidas and Omega plan parties at invitation-only pop-up clubs set up for the games. Omega was hosting a Brazilian night Friday to celebrate Rio's turn as host of the 2016 Games, while Adidas is sponsoring a closing-night party with DJ team Livin' Proof on the decks.
Sportswear rival Puma — Usain Bolt's sponsor — plans a closing-night celebration at its Jamaica-themed venue in London's Brick Lane.
Budweiser is sponsoring Club Bud, transforming the Roundhouse music venue in north London into a party destination expected to draw U.S. athletes — including its biggest stars, the basketball team — as well as big-name hip-hop artists.
Associated Press Writer Dorothee Thiesing contributed to this report. Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless