Fans of Michael Jackson who didn't get to see his few tours can see an eye-popping riff on the spectacle the gloved one was. Cirque du Soleil has created an arena show that is part biography, part concert simulation and all spectacle. Like Jackson himself, Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour
is a glorious train wreck showered in sequins.
The intimacy of a big-top show is impossible to pull off in an arena, but Cirque is starting to get the hang of it. The circus acts are often lost amidst the fireworks, hordes of dancers and a huge, highly adaptable set that is a character all on its own. While the dancers struggle to sell a revamped "Thriller" as a climax to the first act, the huge video screens dwarf the action and remind the audience of just how thrilling that video was. But when the acts are left to shine, they do. A pole dancer steams up the stadium, a group of shirtless acrobats on a giant trampoline are breathtaking and a hoop act clad in LED suits are nothing short of magical.
The bio part is less successful. The opening, "Have You Seen My Childhood," is mawkish, the animatronic Michael floating around in a balloon is flat-out disturbing, and the Jackson 5 hits are swallowed up in the video screens. Though it didn't seem to bother the gaggles of straight women, or the cute gay couple just one row down; they sang along lustily to every hit — and Jackson has had a lot of hits — and danced in the aisles. It was oddly like attending a concert where the headliner, whose charisma and talent were needed to hold the whole thing together, was MIA. All the illuminated hearts, sequins and LED suits in the world can't replace the magic of a human connection — that realization makes Jackson's death far more heartbreaking than any memories the show evoked.
A ring act performed by hunky gladiators showed just how well the marriage of Jackson's music and circus acts can work, with the heavy beats driving the feats of endurance. The moments when this weird hybrid is successful are incredible and are must-sees; the moments when it misses are quickly forgotten as Cirque layers on the special effects, eye-candy and explosions. Like Jackson's talent, the Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour
is larger than life and stops at nothing to entertain.
Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour continues at the ACC until Sun, Oct 23.