The Man in the Mirror, Onstage
Though Michael Jackson wasn’t at the show last night at the Bryce Jordan Center, his spirit definitely was. “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” Cirque du Soleil’s tribute to the famous singer featured his music, his choreography, and themes from his life, from childhood to saving the world from environmental harm and dictatorships. A live band accompanied Jackson’s voice, while a cast of 60 dancers and acrobats displayed his style and interpreted his songs.
Because the experience was more of a concert than a circus, I don’t think the show lived up to other Cirque productions (see my review of last year’s Quidam here. I didn’t have any mind-blowing moments, because the acts were focused more on dancing and spectacle than . Every number had a theme, but the show itself felt disconnected. The arrangements of the songs by the band were fine, but the music was so faithful to the original that it felt like listening to a “best of” playlist. I guess I was expecting something more, but I’m sure hardcore fans of Michael Jackson’s discography had the experience of a lifetime.
But it was still a fun show to watch. Some of the costumes incorporating color-changing LED lights were quite cool, and the lighting and projection designs dramatically accompanied the action. The performance of “Smooth Criminal,” with dancers dressed as gangsters while the film-noir music video played in the background, was a real highlight. “Thriller” was accompanied by dancing mummies and what can only be described as giant bats with glowing red eyes. On the other hand, some numbers were based around computer generated projections, like “Ben,” and I almost couldn’t wait for them to be over. But the firework display at the end made up for it– I didn’t know you could do that kind of stuff inside.
Standouts in the cast included Jean Sok, a one-legged dancer who used crutches to pull off some amazing moves, and Tina Guo and Desiree Basset, who came forward from the band to duel in an electric cello versus guitar battle. While I can’t recommend the show as a Cirque du Soleil fan, if you like Michael Jackson, you’ll find something to enjoy.