Niagara Gazette

Features

July 29, 2012

Cirque du Soleil immortalizes the king of pop

Niagara Gazette — Whatever one’s opinion of the late music legend Michael Jackson, no one could deny that he was far ahead of the curve in terms of showmanship and choreography.

So only the most innovative of live stage show production companies would likely be able to advance his legacy some two years after his death.

Enter Cirque du Soleil.

The internationally renowned entertainment company, which is nearing its 30-year anniversary, tasked Jamie King to write and direct a Jackson-themed show about a year ago. The result, “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” makes its first stop in Buffalo on Tuesday after more than nine months on the road.

Among the 61 dancers and musicians in the cast is Khalid Freeman, a Detroit native who grew up a big fan of Jackson’s music. The show has the support of Jackson’s estate, so Khalid said it’s not shy in utilizing elements that made Jackson the most well-known musician on the planet.

“It’s a hybrid of a rock concert and a Cirque show. It’s almost like you’re at a Michael Jackson concert,” he said in a phone interview. “We do his songs, dances and use his costumes. You’ll see the glove, the penny loafers.”

Touching on most major points in Jackson’s life — although not in chronological order — the show will touch viewers for many reasons, he said.

“It’s going to have an effect on somebody’s nostalgia, how they were raised.

“Generations were raised on his music,” he said. “Everyone who comes to the show is going to know 90 percent of the songs. And if you’re a real fan, you’re going to know them all.”

He said attendees will also see the passing on of Jackson’s message of caring for the planet and its inhabitants.

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