OSA Images/Cirque du Soleil
Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 | 3:42 p.m.
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Thousands of fans cheered from the first moment one of the “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” cast members shot up to the top of an exploding fire hydrant and danced on the high-powered water jet. However, Cirque du Soleil chief Daniel Lamarre only wanted to listen to the verdict from Michael’s family at last month’s world premiere in Montreal, where the entertainment company is headquartered.
“We did all this for them,” Daniel told me. “We wanted to do it at the level of Michael. I just hope that the Jackson family will enjoy it. This is the big night, a lot of money on the table, a lot of creativity at stake. ‘Immortal’ takes us where we have not gone before. Tonight is the night, the result of a long journey, and the month we are in Vegas will be the most important for us.”
Cirque didn’t have to worry. The verdicts on the 180,000-pound, two-level stage spectacle from Marlon, Tito and Jackie were unanimous: “Fantastic, exciting high energy -- it captures the essence of our brother. It was even better than we dared envision -- way more. A 10-star show. For an opening night without previews, this was incredible. In fact, remarkable -- so when it arrives in Vegas, it will truly be awesome.”
Michael’s mom Katherine Jackson and his children Prince Michael, 14, Prince Michael II (aka Blanket), 9, and daughter Paris, 13, all walked the premiere’s red carpet in Montreal, as we reported and reviewed last month. “They couldn’t wait to see it. They were so excited,” Tito told me.
The brothers continued: “We were captivated. It’s so truly great, it’s impossible not to like it. We felt Michael’s presence. We felt we were all back onstage with the music we used to do in concerts. We wanted to get up onstage and join in. You just felt his energy and his presence. Several times during the show, we agreed Michael would really be proud of this. Everybody who sees this won’t just enjoy it, they’ll go wow. Wow!”
It’s impossible to separate the enthusiasm of the three brothers since they finish one another’s thoughts and sentences and speak over one another. “When the cast wore the lighted suits and were showing the universe, it brought tears to our eyes. We cried during the ‘Gone Too Soon’ ballad. Our mother was probably bawling out there.
“We want to thank Cirque for capturing it perfectly so people can understand the true person Michael was: his unity, his love, wanting to make the world a better place, make people get along and make us understand that we are brothers and sisters and we should be unified and fight for the same goals and the same love. This absolutely contributes to his legacy. Without a doubt, Michael would have signed off on this show. When you have Cirque and Michael together, people expect to see something extra special, and it’ll go far with this show around the whole world. His music is so powerful, it’s a universal language that everybody can gravitate to the positive -- his music in ‘Immortal’ can bring the world together as one and in harmony.
“Bringing Cirque and Michael together amplifies that message even broader. Only Cirque could show hearts and the world with a Band-Aid healing all. That was Michael’s whole message his entire career, that he wanted to get people together to help us understand that love is so important and with loving hearts that we can capture anything and overcome anything. We are one, we are all one.
“You see so many different heads of states fighting, but when you leave this earth, you are only going to be judged on one thing, and that’s what you’ve done for others, not what you’ve obtained while you are here on planet Earth because we are one. Unite the world and everybody moves in one force, and that’s the force of peace.
“Michael loved Vegas. He saw every Cirque show, so for him to be a part of the Cirque family now would have been a dream come true for him. He was here in spirit tonight, but I wish he’d actually been here. He would have loved what we saw. It wasn’t just his music -- it was his heart, what he did for people, how he tried to change the world to be a better place, to care about the sick and needy -- that came before his music.
“He then used the music to help others, to help build children’s hospitals, to help people who needed education. He would provide for families in need, sometimes sending $5,000 to a family to have a beautiful Christmas. That was the true Michael Jackson, the things you don’t hear about that we knew he did is what made him a very beautiful person. He never wanted publicity or to brag about it. He just did it out of the goodness of his heart.
“God blessed us with a musical gift. God just doesn’t bless you with something without a reason. The international power that family has hold of Michael took it to another level. Our mission was to go out and bring people together as one, through our music, and that started from the Jackson 5 days when we used to do concerts. We’d go visit the hospitals and the sick kids … and bring joy into their lives and unite people together as one, unify the planet, unify the world as one. And that’s what the world needs, a peaceful front, a peaceful environment. It’s in every one of the lyrics we sang.”
Daniel told me that some of the elements from the touring “Immortal” show will be used for the residency show that follows in 2013. “In a sense, our arena concerts at Mandalay Bay will be a teaser for what’s to come with the permanent one. That’s in development now and moving along nicely.” I’ll update that progress when I meet with him this weekend.
Marlon, Tito and Jackie revealed that there’s a possibility of them reuniting for their own show: “In Vegas, at a hotel and casino to be named later. Everything’s possible. Never say never, let’s put it that way. There could be something.”
Tomorrow, it’s the behind-the-scenes geniuses and design technicians who make the magic of Michael come to life.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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