With less than two months to go before his 50-date stint at London’s O2 Arena starts July 8, Michael Jackson is dancing up a storm 6,000 miles away in Burbank, Calif. as he, choreographer Kenny Ortega and the rest of Team Jackson put together the show.
Details are beginning to emerge in what is sure to be the most scrutinized opening night in music history. The show will run more than two hours, AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips told Billboard. AEG Live is producing the concert slate. The production costs more than $20 million, says Phillips. We’re using technology that’s never been used before in live entertainment,” Phillips says.
Jackson and Ortega selected 10 back up dancers in April, after more than 700 dancers auditioned in Los Angeles. Jackson is now rehearsing with the dancers for six hours, four days a week, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The singer is apparently showing off a few new dance steps of his own, Phillips tells the Times, saying the Jackson was hoping to develop a move that would provide as memorable as the moonwalk. “He’s working on it,” Phillips said, refusing to say more: “I’m sworn to secrecy.”
While it’s impossible to separate the fact from the fiction at this point, various rumors, most unconfirmed, are swirling: The show will include up to 22 songs, including a possible duet between Jackson and his son, Prince Michael. There will be Cirque du Soleil-type choreography. While the British press reported there would be monkeys and elephants on stage, Phillips tells the LA Times there are no animals.
Billboard speculates that Jackson, who shares in net ticket sales, could make more than $50 million should he perform all 50 shows. More than 750,000 tickets have been sold for the 02 Arena run with a gross of around $90 million. VIP packages and other deluxe ticketing plans could raise another $10 million, Billboard reports.