Cirque Du Soleil are just weeks away from the premiere of ‘Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,’ and Jamie King gives an insight to the amazing production.
“It’s an ambitious show,” King, who was part of Michael’s ‘Dangerous’ World Tour in 1992 tells Billboard. “Everything about this project has felt large. Being around Michael, he always wanted everything larger, bigger, more confetti, more pyro, more magic. He wanted fans to feel like they were getting the best experience ever, so we started with that and moved forward.
With every aspect of this show we’ve pushed the envelope, costumes, music, going above and beyond what Michael was as a star and really putting it on steroids, taking it to the next level.”
King is loathed to reveal too many details about The Immortal World Tour, which incorporated ten choreographers and a live band led by long-time Michael keyboardist Gregg Phillinganes.
“It was important to have a live band; Michael always had a live band in his show,” King notes. “You can imagine what it feels like to have people who actually played music with Michael there, playing it again.”
King says he directed musical designer Kevin Antunes to be as inventive as possible with arrangements and mash-ups, not unlike Cirque du Soleil treatments of the Beatles’ catalog in the ‘Love’ show or the Elvis Presley repertoire for ‘Viva Elvis.’ “Definitely all the hits that the fans want to hear are there,” King promises. “‘Beat It,’ ‘Thriller,’ ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,‘ the big, iconic songs are there, with some other songs mixed and matched throughout. There’s some younger Michael in there as well, ‘Ben,’ the Motown stuff. It’s a mixed bag of tricks in terms of songs. It’s a music-driven show, so we’re making sure the music is the narrative that drives us and takes us on the journey.”
A soundtrack album from The Immortal World Tour is tentatively slated to be released by year’s end.
King says the production is; “overall really just a celebration of the man,” and he says he took into account fan reactions and suggestions that came after the show was announced in November of 2010. “How they remember Michael has been a good jumping off point,” he explains. “A big thing was they wanted to make sure Michael’s iconic choreography is a big part of the show, and certainly in collaboration with Cirque…we’ve taken that to the next level as well. If there’s something you’d typically see on the stage floor, they ask; ‘Can we put that in the air? Can we fly that performer doing the same type of choreography?’ They really provide the magic.”
The Immortal World Tour is an authorised partnership with the Estate of Michael. Attorney Howard Weitzman says he and other estate officials, including executors John Branca and John McClain, have kept “really close tabs” on the production during development and rehearsals and have been satisfied with what they’ve seen so far.
“I think the estate would like the show to be a celebration of Michael’s creativity, his legacy and his music and wants it to be an everlasting tribute to Michael’s art and his genius,” Weitzman explains. “Michael was a big fan of Cirque du Soleil. It’s a great marriage.” He adds that Cirque and the estate “jointly participated in the selection of the music. They then took those songs…and blew it up into a spectacular presentation.”
The Immortal World Tour will visit sixty North American cities before wrapping up in early July in Chicago. The production will also take up residency at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
To see some new photos of the show, please click here.
Weitzman says that in addition to the Cirque show, the Jackson estate is contemplating several other projects. The 25th anniversary of the ‘Bad’ album in 2012 may be commemorated with a special package similar to 2008’s ‘Thriller 25,’ while another set of unreleased material to follow 2010’s ‘Michael’ collection is also being considered. “It’s a pretty vibrant estate in the sense that it continues to generate not just catalog opportunities but plenty of other ideas,” Weitzman says.