"Michael Jackson: the Immortal World Tour" is moving, entertaining
When I first heard about "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" – a hybrid of a Michael Jackson musical and a Cirque du Soleil performance – I was both fascinated and skeptical. It had all of the potential to be quite captivating or completely corny.
I was concerned it might be the latter because I've seen other Michael Jackson tributes since his death in 2009, and they never quite worked.
Then, I heard that this show – which opened tonight at the Bradley Center and will have a repeat performance on Saturday night at 8 p.m. – was the first musical authorized by Jackson's estate which means they have full license to his music.
Plus, I was informed during an interview last week with publicist Maxime Charbonneau that the show doesn't feature an actor playing Jackson. Instead, he would be represented via his voice and images.
Suddenly, this sounded more appealing.
In terms of bang for your buck, this show brings it. The incredible dancing never stops and ranges in genre from African to break to, of course, Jackson's signature moves. The acrobatics are incredible, so much so I almost had to turn away when a man suspended upside down by a wire held a contorting woman by her ankle.
Also, there's a pole dancer and a one-legged dancer that were both fascinating to watch.
The show did not tell a linear story, rather it interpreted and highlighted aspects of Jackson's career and personality through 22 acts that focus on many elements of the complicated being that was Jackson, including his love for animals, Michael Jordan and the environment.
Last week, when I interviewed Charbonneau, he said the show ranges in emotion and that portions of it are very moving whereas other parts are more upbeat. I found this to be a true statement. The reoccurring theme of childhood and, more specifically, childhood lost, was represented through imagery, children's voices and footage of an adorable Jackson during the Jackson 5 years.
There are aspects of the show that may be problematic for viewers. For one, it is narrated by a mime. Although this mime is an impressive dancer, he is still the classic pretending-to-be-trapped-behind-a-plate-of glass mime. Also, there is a "Bubbles-the-chimp" character representing the primate from a Texas research facility that Jackson adopted in the early '80s. The inclusion of Bubbles was just plain weird.
Charbonneau also said that during most performances audience members get out of their seats and dance during the last 20 minutes of the show. This happened tonight during the second-to-last number which was a mega-mix of "Can You Feel It," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Billie Jean" and a very moving "Black and White."
The final song resonated with the audience which was, indeed, both black and white. Although Jackson clearly had issue with his personal appearance, he also managed to unite his audience regardless of race.
No doubt, like all of us, Jackson was a complex, flawed person. But he was also a gifted, beautiful individual who wished more from the world than he was able to produce. Tonight was a large-scale celebration of Jackson's beautiful parts.
And there were many.
"Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" opened on Oct. 2, 2011 in Canada and will travel to 60 cities in North America by August of 2012. The show will then tour Europe, Asia and beyond.
There's one more night of the show: Saturday, March 17. Show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $50, $80, $125 and $175. Get tickets here.
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