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Michael Jackson lives on with “The Immortal World Tour” by Cirque du Soleil

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Michael Jackson: "The Immortal World Tour" by Cirque du Soleil opened to chants of “Michael! Michael!” The near sell-out crowd at Power Balance Pavilion on Tuesday night sat almost breathless through two hours of a show that had the feel of a Michael Jackson concert, but with the incredible performances for which Cirque du Soleil has become revered.

An awe-inspiring collection of contortionists, acrobats and dancers from around the world took the stage in this moving tribute to an artist whose music, moves and iconic image will forever define pop music, with a soundtrack that spanned Michael Jackson’s incredible career.

The show easily transitioned from a thrilling rendition of “Wanna Be Starting Something,” with dancers and acrobats careening across the stage in tribal wear, to the tender “Ben,” a tribute to Jackson’s love of animals, with performers in elephant costumes swaying gently to the ballad.

The backdrop was formed by a compilation of screens that flashed images from Jackson’s music videos and appearances, along with photos of the artist and a live video feed of the show.

Jackson’s tragic death in 2009 left his fans stunned and saddened, just three weeks from the start of his “This Is It” tour. For enthusiasts of the late artist, the show brings in elements from the ill-fated tour, including a reenactment of a routine that features soldiers in robot suits dancing to “They Don’t Really Care About Us” and an impressive array of musicians who worked with Jackson throughout his career.

The first act ended with “Thriller,” and the stage filled with dozens of performers in a foggy graveyard scene that revived the famous moves of the King of Pop. There were times when it seemed that Michael Jackson himself would appear on stage.

In the “Human Nature” performance, artists in multicolored LED costumes were suspended in front of a backdrop of the night sky and appeared to float and fly as a 3D image of a young Michael Jackson, perched on a crescent moon, hovered above the stage behind a sheer curtain.

One of the most impressive performances came from Jean Sok, a French amputee whose break dancing was featured throughout the show – including the incredible way he manipulated a basketball with his only foot.

For some, the most memorable performance may have been that of Australian Felix Cane, whose scantily clad pole dance to “Dangerous” was received in awed silence by the crowd.

Following a video of young Michael Jackson singing “I’ll Be There,” the grand finale was a multi-cultural blend of dance, acrobatics and music, with a melange of some of Jackson’s most famous songs. And as the performers took their bows to “Man in the Mirror,” the mime who lead led us through the journey to Neverland Ranch, shed his cap to don a fedora and single silver sequined glove, striking the pose Jackson immortalized – head tilted down and one arm raised in salute.

The overwhelming theme of the show was Jackson’s passion for social and humanitarian causes, and his voice narrated parts of the show.

Casual fans of the artist may not receive “The Immortal World Tour” as well as other Cirque du Soleil shows, as the focus is definitely on the music and dancers rather than the acrobats and contortionists.

The show runs in Sacramento for just two nights, and tickets are still available for the second show on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Cirque du Soleil’s “The Immortal World Tour” heads next to the Bay Area, performing in San Jose this Friday through Sunday and in Oakland from Jan. 17-18.

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Kim Reyes

  • Wow. That looks fantastic. Can’t wait to see it. This is a tribute that I wouldn’t want to miss. It seems genuine and sincere unlike the Jackson Tribute Fragrances (lately renamed the JRP/Jackson Perfume Collection) by Joe Jackson and Julian Rouas. Michael Jackson’ s kids, Paris and Prince were posing last month for the Jackson Tribute Fragrances with Julian Rouas. This is kinda disturbing. See the sickening photos and read the disturbing details: http://jacksontributefragrances.blogspot.com

  • Wonderful article, so very true! I saw the show in Las Vegas in December, and LOVED it. So much that I saw it twice, in fact. 🙂 I will see it again when it comes to Texas. And I am greatly anticipating the permanent show that is coming to the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in 2013. I will definitely be there!
    You can almost feel Michael’s presence during the show. I love that some of the people who worked with him when he was here are participants… I know that this show was inspired by love for Michael. Considering Michael’s awe-inspiring career of 40 years… despite the fact that we lost him much too soon… I feel this show is awesome in presenting a beautiful tapestry of those 40 years.

  • I saw the show in Vegas too. Going to see it again in Raleigh and again at MGS in NYC with various friends. Great show absolutely wonderful. Jackson’s music is perfect for something like this. He said one time that he wrote music so he could dance and this show is full of great dancing, acrobats and aerialists.

  • Great article, it makes me excited to hear that Michael Jackson was portrayed in a kind and respectful manner. Michael Jackson certainly wanted to make a difference!!!

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