Cirque du Soleil
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 10:04 a.m.
Michael Jackson One
In advance of our “Michael Jackson One” by Cirque du Soleil report and photo gallery to be posted this afternoon from this morning’s official sneak peek, I can tell you that the 26 scenes with 60 performers includes 70 percent of the late King of Pop’s No.1 hits — all full length.
The Mandalay Bay sound system will allow the front-stage speakers to play Michael’s lead vocals, while the headset speakers at each seat will have his background vocals. I’m told that it will be as if the audience was in the recording studio with Michael, as it is the raw audio of the master recordings just as the engineers heard it.
Again, there is no one performer playing Michael onstage, but video and audio footage of the singer envelops the plot of four unexpected characters who each portray Michael’s storytelling personality of courage, love, playfulness and agility. It is a character-driven story, and Creative Director Welby Altidor and writer and show Director Jamie King say, “We build his presence through his voice and feel his shadow as he becomes more and more present through the show. Then the apex, the moment where we’ll really feel that, he’s there, and he’s still with us.”
Music Director Kevin Antunes was given full access to Michael’s library of masters with permission of his estate’s lawyers. I’m told by top Cirque officials that “Michael Jackson One,” Cirque’s eighth resident show on the Strip, is the company’s most ambitious endeavor to date, and no show has ever had so many acrobatic performers in a single production. Dance crews come from as far away as New Zealand, South Korea and Puerto Rico.
Travis Payne is the choreographer, and Zaldy Goco, who has worked with Michael, Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani, dresses the performers. I interviewed Zaldy and Jamie when they kicked off “Michael Jackson — The Immortal World Tour” arena touring show in Montreal in October 2011 — it is still on tour and continuing to break attendance records weekly worldwide. It plays Japan this month, then Korea, Australia and, in August, China.
Jamie summed up his new show: “It’s One because that was Michael’s message, but also because he became No. 1, his hits became No. 1, and he was the world’s No. 1 star. But right to the end, he said we are all just One because we are all the same. I want people to leave with that One-ness.”
We see the new Mandalay Bay Theater for the first time this morning, but we already know the double doors will be black and gold designed as Michael’s signature military jackets. There are six floor-to-ceiling portraits of Michael in his moonwalk look — a sequined jacket, a black hat and white socks. I’m told that jewels will cover the lobby bathed in sapphire blue.
Previews of “Michael Jackson One” start at Mandalay Bay on May 23, with the official world premiere June 21. Check back to Vegas DeLuxe later for our first photos of the sneak preview and additional comments from Jamie.
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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