Cirque du Soleil brings to life the King of Pop
Cirque du Soleil’s "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" is unique among the Canadian performance company’s productions from inception to execution. The show features the masterful acrobatics fans have come to expect from the group, but with an ethos only the King of Pop could provide.
Cirque spokesperson Laura Silverman told EDGE: "Michael Jackson had always been a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil. He saw one of the very first tent shows in Santa Monica in the 1980’s and then he visited our headquarters in Montreal in 2004. She remarked that, "There had always been a great mutual respect between the two entities... There had always been hope to one day to do something together."
The finished product is one that even made the notoriously selective Jackson family proud. "The response was overwhelmingly very positive from them. They’ve all shared that it’s a show Michael would have loved. And that’s really all we hoped for," Silverman said confidently. Michael Jackson’s mother, children, and an unnamed sibling attended the premiere of the show in Montreal last October.
Some familiar faces
’Immortal’ features stunning musical talents in addition to the world-class acrobats. Fans of Jackson are likely to spot some familiar faces as a number of the late star’s bandmates and collaborators are a part of the production.
The selection of showstopper Tina Guo on cello was a personal pick by Jackson director Jamie King.
Silverman described the creation process between the Jackson team and Cirque as highly collaborative.
"They spent some time at Neverland ranch learning about who he was and where he lived to gain some inspiration for the show... It was about a year and a half creation process, which is a lot shorter than most shows," she explained, adding that the usual show creation time is three years.
I asked what surprises were in store for fans, and Silverman chimed in with an especially enticing bit for Jackson fans:
"Working with the estate, we were given access to all his never-before-seen or heard clips."
The show makes full use of this privilege, as the voice of Michael Jackson echoes throughout the stadium from the beginning until the end of the show in a series of intimate conversational clips.
Also featured are a number of little known song selections, a stand-out being the chilling contortionist scene set to "Is It Scary," followed by one of Jackson’s biggest hits. Because, as Silverman reminds me, "You can’t have a Michael Jackson show without ’Thriller.’"
Carrying on his legacy
By acknowledging both the lesser-known eccentricities of Michael Jackson along with his biggest hits, ’Immortal’ strikes a unique balance. The sense of dedication to the intent of his work is palpable when speaking to Silverman about the show.
"We’re really proud of it. We all feel very fortunate to be a part of it and be carrying on his legacy."
Cirque du Soleil’s ’Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour will be showing in Boston at TD Garden on August 3rd and 4th, then at the Staples Center in LA on August 10th and 11th.