Tonight, “Michael Jackson One,” Cirque du Soleil”s new show heralding the King of Pop, starts previews at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Will the show, which officially opens June 29, bring the same fervor and excitement as Cirque”s “Love,” which features the music of the Beatles?
Hitfix got a sneak peek at “MJ One” a few weeks ago when we saw four production numbers in the tale that follows four misfits: each one comes into possession of a certain article associated with Jackson: his sequined glove, his dancing shoes, his bowler hat and his sunglasses and the story follows their journey of discovery.
Through 22 different Jackson tunes, different scenes play out. For example, during “Bad,” the dancers and acrobats swing from scaffolding in a city landscape complete with a running subway.. For “Tabloid Junkie,” they find themselves pursued by “Matrix”-like futuristic paparazzi who come complete with cameras built into their shoulders. It”s a reinterpretation of Jackson”s songs via Cirque”s magical world.
“It”s expressing and experiencing things in a new way,,” says the show”s director and writer Jamie King, who toured with Jackson as a dancer on the “Dangerous” tour. “It”s taking Michael”s videos like ‘Thriller” and ‘Beat It” and being able to put a twist on them in the very fantastical way Cirque has. Imagine taking the ‘Thriller” dance from the sky? What could that look like? There were all these opportunities.”
Indeed, Welby Altidor, the show”s director of creation (how”s that for a title?), says the Cirque troupe re-envisioned Jackson from a 360 perspective. “If Michael were an acrobat, how would he move? How would he fly? How would he do some of the things that Cirque du Soleil is known for doing?” Take those elements and tie in inspiration from urban dance, hip-hop and many other dance forms and those ideas created the springboard for the show.
The idea was also for the spectacular to focus on Jackson”s theme of unity. “The message we heard in many, many of his songs [was] togetherness, oneness. It”s something we want to explore and celebrate in his show.”
“He had a very simple message at the end of the day,” King says of Jackson. “We are one.”
“One” is the second show created by the estate of Michael Jackson and Cirque du Soleil. Unlike “Immortal,” the tremendously popular touring show about Jackson, “Michael Jackson One” features his songs in their near entirety, as opposed to in mash-ups, as well as follows a narrative based on these four characters.