Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

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Offline mac5k

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Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: July 25, 2011, 10:44:38 AM
Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil

Jamie King preps the Immortal World Tour

It is exactly two years to the day that Michael Jackson died from an overdose of propofol in Los Angeles, and Jamie King is sitting in his Montreal apartment taking a break from the challenging rehearsals for Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson -- The Immortal World Tour.

"I remember the exact moment I heard the news when Michael had passed away," says King, softly. "I was in London with Madonna and we were in the O2 Arena doing her "Sticky & Sweet" tour. That is where Michael was supposed to come and launch his "This Is It!" tour. That was the last memory I have of him. Michael passed; we were there, and he was supposed to be coming there, but …"

It was the only rueful moment in an otherwise upbeat conversation centered around the multi-media live extravaganza King has written, designed and directed, in association with the Canadian theatrical company and the Michael Jackson estate. "So," he adds, "to now be asked to immortalize Michael in this way, was just overwhelming."

Organizers expect the traveling road show, which bows in Montreal on Oct. 2 before hitting 80 markets through September 2012, to play for a combined audience of 1.5 million stretched out over 180 performances, with revenues projected to exceed $1 billion.

Jackson's multi-track vocals will be placed over a live band, which includes several key players who had toured with the pop star, such as keyboardist and music director Greg Phillinganes and drummer Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett.

Patrons who expect a show similar to most Cirque du Soleil shows will likely be surprised.

"It's different," says Stephane Mongeau, executive producer for Cirque. "It's a live concert with musicians, dancers and acrobats.

"We wanted to pay tribute to Michael, his music and his dancing, so we anchored the show in his home of Neverland."

It was on a trip to Jackson's former home nine months after his death that attorney John Branca and Interscope Records founder John McClain, co-executors of the late singer's estate, laid the plans out to produce a show with Cirque founder/ CEO Guy Laliberte and Mongeau.

"We had been in touch with Jamie for five or six years just seeing what might be possible for us to create with him," says Mongeau. "We were already dialed into him and had already started the conversation with Jamie about doing future shows involving him and Cirque. The Estate was well aware of Jamie, too. So, when that opportunity came to do this, his name was the first one we all thought of."

The Immortal World Tour is Cirque's third venture into merging pop icons with their other-worldly acrobatics. The Beatles Love and Viva Elvis remain nightly sell outs at their anchored Las Vegas theaters; but this is the first attempt to take a pop music-oriented show on tour.

"Michael will always be present during the show through video and new technology, especially holographic technology," says King. "Most importantly, because it is a music-driven show, we're working with Michael's catalog. Michael is really the narrator, his voice will always be there."

The set will be carried by 30 tractor-trailers, and was designed by Mark Fisher, whose clients have included Pink Floyd and David Bowie.

As in Jackson's live performances, the energy will come from the dancing. "The iconic choreography of Michael Jackson is always referenced," says King, who worked with Jackson for nearly two years as a dancer and choreographer. "What is great about the magic of Cirque, as you know, is that his dancing can now be imagined in a more magical way, that not even Michael could have envisioned. We can take the moonwalk and now imagine it, upside down, on the ceiling in the arena!"

With a development budget north of $50 million, the production touts 65 Jackson songs, including standard arrangements, remixes and mash-ups; Jackson's choreography; and Cirque's trademark acrobatics.

"It will be unlike any other rock show that you may have seen before," boasts King, who began the project in March 2010. "It is a hybrid where we are taking the idea of a rock show and a Cirque show and taking it on the road."

Offline Grace

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Re: Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: April 06, 2012, 04:32:50 PM
This is a recent review:

  Posted: Fri, Apr. 6, 2012, 9:00 AM 
Cirque show captures Michael Jackson's magic 
By Jonathan Takiff
                  Philadelphia Daily News Daily News Staff Writer
     Dancers perform "Billie Jean" during Cirque Du Soleil´s  "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour."     
Dancers perform "Billie Jean" during Cirque Du Soleil's  "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour."       

CLEARLY, CIRQUE du Soleil's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" is a major undertaking - a loud and lavish, multimedia celebration of the "King of Pop" boasting a budget in excess of $50 million, a cast and crew numbering 220.
As an arena rock concert spectacle - how creators view it - the production dwarfs Madonna and Lady Gaga's wildest touring fantasies. Planned to circle the globe for more than three years, the thing's loaded to the gills with lavishly costumed dancers and daredevil acrobatic acts, a 12-piece band, high-tech video screens, fanciful props and in-your-face pyrotechnic explosions.
Along with a huge and highly animated main stage, there's a motorized conveyor belt ramp feeding performers to and from a midcourt second stage. So much floor space is consumed that there's room for only 10,000 to 12,000 spectators, even in a building like the Wells Fargo Center, where the show plays Tuesday and Wednesday and which normally accommodates as many as 21,000 patrons for concerts.
There's only one element missing: the top-billed star.
Where's Michael?
Of course Michael Jackson's singing and spoken voice is ever present, mixed (and sometimes mashed up) with that live band and singers led by Jackson's longtime keyboardist Greg Phillinganes.
Jackson's visage is often flashing on the video screens, too, with a number of clips borrowed from the "This Is It" stage show (and posthumous documentary film) he was working on for a London debut before his death at age 50 on June 25, 2009.
"Michael's spirit is reflected in every aspect of the show," noted choreographer Travis Payne, another of the true believers and keepers of the flame connected to this project. Payne cut his teeth - as did "Immortal World Tour" writer/director Jamie King - in the dance ensemble of Jackson's 1992-93 "Dangerous" concert show.
Yet for some spectators, including the trio of tweens plopped behind me at a recent Prudential Center performance in Newark, N.J., the message that "Michael has left the building" still hasn't sunk in, even 34 months after his sad demise.
Before the show, the little girls were warming up for the night's festivities with piercing screams and snippets of their favorite Jackson ditties. When the show kicked into gear, though, they grew hushed and pretty much stayed that way. At intermission, I overheard one ask her mom, "Why is the mime the star?"
The juggling act
Devotees of the French-Canadian performance art-circus troupe have to be chuckling over that line. Virtually every Cirque show features a clownish mime - this one's dressed in a silvery, sequined, M.J.-ish jumpsuit - who gleefully leads us into the grand and mysterious adventure.
But unlike the fairly linear, Cirque-created Beatles "Love" celebration (still pulling crowds after five years to the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas), this show ebbs and flows in dream time, juggling material more for artistic pacing than for a HIStory lesson.
The Jackson tribute does much of its mourning at the outset, setting the tone with the singer/composer's poignant ballad reflection on the "Childhood" he missed the first time around and would later make up for as best and as oddly as he could. (FYI: Back in the day, when this then- novice journalist had the chance to chat with a 12-year-old Michael Jackson, I asked what he did "for fun" in his "spare time." The silence from the other end of the phone line was deafening. "When we're not performing, we're rehearsing," he finally said. Oh.)
Keeping a respectful distance
Overall, the tone of this Cirque tribute is more impressionistic than copycat. No one dares to lip-synch to Jackson's vocal tracks, except in a scene before the gates of Neverland, where a mixed lot of "Fanatics" move to the sounds of the Jackson 5 (and the gates eventually part, allowing the elephants and Jackson's pet chimp Bubbles out to play).
There isn't one Michael moonwalking onstage in "Beat It" or grabbing his crotch (a classic Travis Payne invention) in Cirque's restaging of "Thriller." Maybe a half-dozen of the undead dancers do the crotch-grabbing.
A whimsical giant dancing glove and matched pair of penny loafers also speak with his iconic, larger-than-life persona.
And given this is a Cirque show, several songs become fodder for gravity-defying acrobatics, from the jittery, jazzed-up "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' " that sends hip-hopping spiders scampering up and spray-painting on an animated video wall, to the scantily clad female pole dancer (Felix Cane) who personifies "Dangerous." Yeah, she's "Bad," too, but proved to be one of the best-received acts, along with an inspiring, one-legged dancer (Jean Sok) and the dazzlingly lit, high-flying sprites floating magically through the Neverland night in "Human Nature."
What would Michael do?
"Michael was always trying to top himself," said Phillinganes, who first worked with the guy on his breakout 1979 "Off the Wall" solo album. "And I fundamentally believe he would have liked this show - even though I added horns to the band, which he never used in concert and thought were 'archaic,' " Phillinganes shared with a laugh.
"The guy was a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil, ever since he caught one of their tented shows in Santa Monica in 1987," Phillinganes also said. "He visited their headquarters in Montreal more than once. The last time, in 2004, Michael found the costume wing and lost his mind. He didn't want to leave. He really respected the creativity of the Cirque shows and how they obsessed on everything, down to the last little detail."
Jackson would surely be happy that Phillinganes has summoned up four other Jackson regulars - drummer John "Sugarfoot" Moffett, bassist Don Boyette, guitarist Jon Myron Clark and backing singer Fred White - to laser-lock the Cirque ensemble onto the isolated Jackson vocals (and computer-synchronized "click tracks") playing in their headphones. "Michael was not a self-contained artist like the Beatles; he relied a lot on the contributions of his musicians," said the keyboardist who laid down those memorable vamps on "Thriller" and shares composing credits with Jackson on the "Ultimate Collection" track "Cheater."
A rush to judgment
What do showgoers think of "Michael Jackson Immortal"? Web-posted comments are all over the map, from "loved every minute" to "what a disappointment." (Me, I'd award a not-perfect, mostly positive B+.)
Being a Jackson fan definitely helps in the attitude-adjustment department.
But where you're sitting in the arena also seems a factor, with the most expensive floor seats right in front of that thrust extension ironically proving the least desirable for taking in the whole multistage, multitasking spectacle. (My carefully picked press seats at the new North Jersey arena were on the side, 12 rows off the floor, about halfway back. Even there I missed a couple of things.)
Some Cirque fanatics have wished for more circus thrills and intimacy. The company's smaller-scaled, in-the-round tent shows and custom- theater Vegas creations play for 2,000 to 3,000 patrons.
From their perspective, some Jackson fans were expecting more storytelling, less of his earnest, save-the-world ballads (which Cirque treats to weighty tableaux) and for complete performances of up-tempo blockbusters such as "Billie Jean" and "Black or White" crammed here into a "Mega Mix."
Yeah, everybody's a critic.
Please note, though, that the most withering of showgoer comments - suggesting dancers were sloppy and cues were being missed - were posted during the extravaganza's early-on, end-of-2011 stint in Las Vegas and have since been corrected, said Payne. While a part of Jackson's Neverland Ranch lore, a malfunctioning, animated prop likewise dubbed "The Giving Tree" has largely been eliminated. Only the trunk remains.
"Normally, three to four years are devoted to developing a Cirque show," Payne explained. "This one was up and running in less than a year and a half. Truth is, it's still being fine-tuned."
Rush to judgment
That accelerated schedule was surely prompted by the immense ($252 million-grossing) worldwide popularity of "This Is It," the documentary released in late 2009, and the desire to bring a comparably grand stage tribute to fruition while the legend still had maximum luster.
"Other people were trying to get me involved in their Jackson tribute shows. This was the only one that seemed right and that had the complete support of the Jackson family," said Phillinganes. "They literally opened the music vaults for us, for  Kevin Antunes and me to explore."
To expedite the creation, Payne was handed several "signature" Jackson songs to stage, while nine other choreographers also worked on numbers. Maybe there's a connection there to criticisms that the end results are "uneven."
The powers that be in Montreal have evidentially taken these observations to heart. While the subject matter will remain the same, and some of the same creative team is on board, a "totally different" Cirque du Soleil-Michael Jackson show is being plotted for permanent installation at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, with a targeted opening of "mid-2013," said show representative Maxime (Max) Charbonneau.     n
Cirque Du Soleil's "Michael Jackson Immortal The World Tour," 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., $50-$250, 215-298-4200, and
Create your day. Create the most astounding year of your life. Be the change you want to see in the world! L.O.V.E.
"I am tired, I am really tired of manipulation." Michael Jackson, Harlem, New York, NY, July 6, 2002
******* Let's tear the walls in the brains of this world down.*******

Time to BE.

Offline skyways

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Re: Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: April 06, 2012, 07:07:01 PM
juJust saw that show day ago- will post my empression lillater today :icon_rolleyes:

Offline everlastinglove_MJ

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Re: Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: April 06, 2012, 08:11:02 PM
Thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading the reviews, which are all very positive. I'll add one too:

Apr 5 2012 5:39 PM EDT 766
Michael Jackson Immortal Tour: How They Uphold The Legacy
MTV News gets a behind-the-scenes look at the Cirque Du Soleil tribute to the King of Pop.
By Uptin Saiidi

NEWARK — Since its opening, Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil has honored the King of Pop through music, dance and acrobatics 117 times. Night after night, artists celebrate the life of the late Michael Jackson, but how do they take his iconic legacy and put it into a production? When the tour came to New York City this week, MTV News went behind the scenes to talk with the creative forces and performers to find out.

The artists (all 65 of them) had limited time to train and learn choreography -- an especially difficult feat when it's honoring MJ's signature moves. It was a kind of pressure that creative director Tara Young certainly learned to channel into a positive force.

"I think it is a pressure for sure; something I share with the whole building here is that we have nothing to prove, only to share," Young told MTV News. "We have an opportunity to share what Michael would have wanted to share and the pressure is only there to achieve excellence."

For Felix Cane, a two-time world champion pole dancer who does a captivating performance to "Danger," it was all about using that pressure to help the audience to remember the pop icon. "You are sharing this passion with them, and this love of MJ. There's times in the show when some people and I, myself, might have shed a few tears."

That pressure never felt as great as when the Jackson family sat in the front row at a show in Montreal, an experience Young described as "inspiring." When asked what MJ would think if he were sitting there with them, Young smiled, "He would feel such a sense of pride of what he has given us to work with. It evokes emotions in people that they didn't even know were going to come out."

I think everyone feels inspired, which evokes a certain feeling of change," Young added. "You feel a sadness too because he is not with us anymore, and that is an emotion that is wonderful too actually ... just to honor him."

The tour will continue in North America through the summer, before heading to Europe this fall.

@ Skyways: looking forward to read your experience :)

I'd love to go too... Europe this fall, maybe, I hope so.

It's all for L.O.V.E.

Offline marumjj

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Re: Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: April 06, 2012, 08:24:13 PM
Cirque du Soleil shows in general terms is unforgettable, but especially Michael Jackson Immortal Tour, this live up to Michael. I have read many criticisms and all agree on the quality of the show. I would love to see it. Thanks for sharing

Offline underthemoon

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Re: Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: April 08, 2012, 05:21:25 PM
please can you take a look at the interview with the kids about the Immortal tour ???? I can't understand what Blanket is's at the end of the interview....for me it sounds like.....yes i have one, but he is already dead but it's all for the show  :affraid:
Can be wrong, i don't speak perfect english and can't understand all....maybee wishfull thinking.....
What do you hear ?

Love you !

Offline mindseye

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Re: Resurrecting Michael via Cirque Du Soleil ...

  • on: April 08, 2012, 06:10:45 PM
please can you take a look at the interview with the kids about the Immortal tour ???? I can't understand what Blanket is's at the end of the interview....for me it sounds like.....yes i have one, but he is already dead but it's all for the show  :affraid:
Can be wrong, i don't speak perfect english and can't understand all....maybee wishfull thinking.....
What do you hear ?

Love you !

It does almost sound like dead, the way he said 'good'.  He says... 'because it was all really good'.
'Money...Lie for it Spy for it Kill for it Die for it They'd kill for the money Do or dare'


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