For two nights in Chicago, the acrobats, dancers, and multimedia of Cirque du Soleil came together with epic music and dance moves and classic Michael Jackson videos in a unique show that truly is a once in a lifetime experience. The Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, written and directed by Jamie King, the leading concert director in pop music, who himself worked with Jackson, features over 60 international dancers, musicians, and acrobats celebrating Michael Jackson’s life and music.
Michael Jackson’s music and legendary choreography are at the center of this show, featuring some of the greats such as “Thriller”, "Wanna Be Starting Something", "Smooth Criminal", and "Man in the Mirror” along with lesser known songs such as "Childhood", "Threatened", and “Mime”. Cirque du Soleil adds its own distinctive power and intensity to each piece through dramatic interpretation and remarkable acrobatics.
The show started with a small group of dancers performing a series of street-style dance moves; the dancers climbed (with the help of wires) horizontally up a giant screen portraying various cityscapes. As a montage of Jackson songs played, the vertical cityscape fell back and the gates of Jackson’s famed Neverland lowered in its place. Dancers costumed as bronze sculptures were awakened by a mime to the melody of “Childhood,”
a heart-tugging song that asks “Have you seen my childhood?” complete with an odd cameo appearance from Jackson’s famous chimpanzee, Bubbles.
Among the 35 Jackson songs in the show, the first act also includes the songs “Smooth Criminal” and “Dangerous.” “Dangerous” features a jaw-dropping pole-dancing act that takes place over 15 feet in the air
and concludes as acrobats and dancers dressed as mummies perform among coffins and tombstones, melding Michael Jackson’s original choreography with fanciful acrobatics in an conceptual take on “Thriller”.
The mime is an interesting choice of what seems to be a tour guide; he appears throughout the show, but pops up distractingly at some of the most intense and active parts. At the 20 minute intermission, I felt as though I had missed the point; I could sense that there was an intent… it just wasn’t coming across.
The second half of Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour draws the audience back in to the world of Cirque du Soleil as two trapeze artists perform sky high to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”
This half delves more into Jackson’s imaginary world, for example an abstract performance of “Earth Song” where the mime dances with Mother Earth. The crowd surged to its feet cheering when the entire cast on appeared on stage for the finale – a “mash-up” of “Can You Feel It”/”Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”/”Billie Jean”/”Black or White.”
In “Black or White”, performers flew flags in a tribute to the nations and dance styles of the world, including African, Spanish, Thai and Georgian dances. The last song was “Man in the Mirror,” a song Jackson often performed at the end of his own appearances. The finale, with a Michael Jackson-look-a-like silhouetted against fireworks, is a grand celebration of the legacy of an immortal and a magnificent demonstration of the creative and gravity defying moves that rightly make Cirque du Soleil famous. The entertainment industry lost an icon when Michael Jackson passed away in 2009, but with heartfelt tributes such as this it is inevitable that his legend never will die.
Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, presented by The Estate of Michael Jackson and Cirque du Soleil, continues on to many cities around the world. It will be transformed into a permanent production that is set to open in May 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
For information on cities, dates, and tickets, please visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/MichaelJackson