Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour
at Mandalay Bay Resort
by Dan Zeff
Las Vegas—“Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour” played for 3 ½ weeks at the Mandalay Bay Hotel before closing on December 27. It’s now on a North American tour of 48 cities that will extend into August. It will return to Las Vegas for an open run set to open on May 13, 2013. The months between now and its return should gives the Cirque du Soleil producers time to figure out what kind of show they want to present, an authentic tribute to Michael Jackson or the display of sensory overload that overwhelmed audiences at the Events Center arena at Mandalay Bay.
A deep reservoir of affection, if not adoration, exists for the late Michael Jackson and a quality live tribute show should be a sure fire hit. Jackson’s personal and professional life elevated him into a fascinating figure in American pop culture and the Cirque du Soleil, as the preeminent brand name in contemporary live entertainment, seems like an appropriate agent to celebrate the man.
Nobody who attended the show at Mandalay Bay could leave the arena complaining they were shortchanged on production values. The evening was a stunning succession of ravishing displays of sound and light, film projections, singing, dancing, and specialty acts. Only one element was overlooked—Michael Jackson.
There were a few bits about Jackson’s Neverland estate and a song about “the childhood I never had.” That teased the viewer into expecting a probing examination into the entertainer’s intimate, and controversial, life. But show never pursued its opportunities. Instead, we saw a bikini clad young woman playing what looked like an electronic cello, a one legged dancer on a crutch, fireworks, jets of steam, and so much activity throughout the arena that the spectators didn’t know where focus their attention. The show resembled a three-ring circus where the viewer concentrated on one ring at the cost of missing out on the pleasures of the other two rings.
Still, for sheer spectacle, much of “The Immortal” was breathtaking. In some scenes performers wore suits of lights in the darkened arena that seemed to dissolve them into airy flying bubbles of illumination floating through the air. But the moments of delicacy were rare interludes in the tsunami of sound and action that could eventually exhaust the spectator.
Near end of the show there was one interlude that did attempt to connect with the essence of Michael Jackson--his humanity, his innocence, and his perhaps naïve hope for a better world. The interlude melded quotations from Jackson with disturbing images of the violence and poverty that afflict much of the world, especially Africa. There were also affecting scenes, both live and animated, of the young Michael leading the Jackson Five. But all these moments were upstaged by the overpowering imagery and deafening sound.
As an arena show, “The Immortal” likely will prove a commercial success as it hopscotches across the continent, though it could be trimmed 30 minutes. The producers promise a heavily revised production in 2013 more appropriate to traditional theaters. Let’s hope the rethinking genuinely connects with the soul of Michael Jackson, even at the expense of some of the present knock-your-socks of production numbers.
This show gets rating of 3 stars
Dan:email@example.com December 2011
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