What happens when you take the music and choreography of the King of Pop and ground it in the magical, body (and mind)-bending world of Cirque du Soleil? The answer is last night’s performance, and it’s hard to imagine a more fitting tribute to the late, great Michael Jackson.
The highly successful Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour is the first of Cirque du Soleil’s two Jackson-based productions, and it’s a gold mine to be tapped, because Jackson’s fan base is vast and, as last night testified to, varied, with old and young alike packing out Perth Arena, Perth’s new state-of-the-art entertainment destination.
Having seen Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I was prepared to be blown away by the set, (the water-themed production transformed the stage into a liquid wonderland with water levels fluctuating between puddle and pool depth), so I was surprised by the minimal setup of the stage, particularly when viewed pre-performance.
But it is due to the proficiency and creative prowess of writer and director Jamie King that this basic space was used to such maximum effect – what it lacked in size and grandeur, it made up for with an array of cleverly shifting scenes, pyrotechnics, killer sound and a mesmeric combination of dance, visuals and music that allowed the viewer to become immersed in Jackson’s world.
Despite a surprisingly lacklustre beginning (odd considering shows generally start with a bang) it picked up momentum, with classics such as “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller” being taken on by an array of agile dancers and acrobats, performed against the backdrop of Jackson's recorded vocals and video projections. Noteworthy performances came from celloist Mariko, whose haunting music punctuated several scenes, and the mind-poppingly dexterous pole dancer, Anna Melnikova.
All the classics were rolled out, along with video footage of Jackson’s progression from a precocious musical prodigy (a performance of “Just Call My Name”, was particularly moving) through to his more sophisticated and stylized offerings.
The sheer musical genius of the late artist is formidable, and with an undertaking such as this, there is always the fear that the real subject of the production will somehow be removed in the process. This was not one of those cases: Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour featured so much of Jackson’s choreography (some dances featured in the film “This is It,” which recorded the production process behind Jackson’s planned 2009 world tour), that this was never a real danger.
The verdict? It’s less circus, more dance, and visual pyrotechnics, so if you came expecting to see a purely interpretive exploration of his music, there’s a chance you might be disappointed. If, however, you came to relive (or experience for the first time) the magic of a Michael Jackson concert fused with spectacular acrobatics and dancing, it was money wisely spent. And since the real thing’s not available anymore, this might be your next best bet.
Cirque du Soleil presents
Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour
Venue: Perth Arena
Dates: 18 – 22 September, 2013
Tickets: $91.50 - $191.50
Also TOURING 2013
Sydney (September 26 - 29)
Brisbane (October 2 - 6)
Melbourne (October 9 - 13)
Adelaide (October 15 - 17)