Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 | 2 a.m.
It’s not exactly a Las Vegas secret, but you probably didn’t know Cirque du Soleil has been teaming up with the estate of Michael Jackson for a special birthday celebration each year at the “Michael Jackson ONE” Theater at Mandalay Bay. This year’s free and open-to-the-public event takes place on Jackson’s actual birthday, August 29, and it’s jam-packed with behind-the-scenes fun any MJ fan wouldn’t want to miss.
It begins at 3 p.m. with a sneak peek at a rehearsal of Cirque’s “Michael Jackson ONE,” now in its fifth year at Mandalay Bay. There will be a Q&A session with acrobats from the show and a chance to win prizes playing Michael Jackson trivia. There will also be a book signing with “The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson” author and designer Michael Bush starting at 4 p.m. in the show’s gift shop, and a meet-and-greet birthday cake reception with officials from Jackson’s estate and the show’s cast and crew starting at 5:30 p.m. in the theater lobby.
But the highlight has to be a brand-new choreographed number not included in the show, to be performed during the rehearsal, also free of charge. “This year we’re doing it to ‘Blood on the Dance Floor,’ and there will be some aerial stuff and a lot of dancing,” says David Gomez, the show’s artistic director. “It’s so much fun to put together every year because the artists get to choreograph it on their own and light it and really build a new act, something different. This is always a really fun time of year for us.”
Gomez, who performed in Cirque’s “The Beatles LOVE” at Mirage and also worked as artistic director for “Mystére” at Treasure Island, says executing the tightly orchestrated choreography in “Michael Jackson ONE” in a way that honors the King of Pop can be a high-pressure task for the cast. And that makes this annual celebration performance even more important, as a way to let loose and try something new while renewing the energy behind the show.
“There would always be pressure any time you have a cast of 63 artists from 17 different countries, top-notch people that each bring their own specialty and discipline to the show,” he says. “But there’s obviously a lot of signature choreography that we need to make sure is clean and precise, and keeping Michael’s spirit and intent and energy alive. That is the goal for me, to keep what the show’s creators put together intact, and we’re also creating some little moments to make sure the evolves in the right direction and stays relevant.”
Just like every Tuesday, “Michael Jackson ONE” has two shows that night, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets for those shows are on sale at cirquedusoleil.com.