Wanna Be Startin' Something
Cirque du Soleil has already proved they can pay a fabulous acrobatic homage to music's greatest icons (LOVE, Viva Elvis) so it should come as no surprise that the French-Canadian circus troupe has teamed up with the Jackson estate.
"Over the last 40 years, three entertainment icons changed the face of music: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson. MGM and Cirque now have the ultimate trio," said MGM Marketing President Bill Hornbuckle.
Cirque and the Jackson estate are working on a multi-faceted collaboration that is sure to make "HIStory." This includes an arena tour debuting in late fall 2011 and a permanent show in Las Vegas starting in 2012.
Jackson's family and friends are very supportive of the endeavor. The Jackson estate and Cirque will each own half of each of the projects and split all costs. His mother, Katherine, had this to say: "Our family is thrilled that Cirque du Soleil will pay tribute to my son in such an important way."
John McClain, co-executor of the Jackson estate said, "There will never be a multifaceted entrepreneur, humanitarian and innovator like Michael, and it is only befitting that this partnership be with Cirque du Soleil. No artist electrified the stage more than Michael did. We expect that his fans will come away from these Cirque du Soleil performances feeling the exhilaration of a Michael Jackson experience and with an even greater appreciation of his legacy."
They have already released this promotional video for the new alliance. Just the juxtaposition of MJ and Cirque was so exciting. I can't even imagine how titillating it will be once they are integrated.
The Michael Jackson tribute will be the Strip's eighth Cirque show. MGM Mirage and Cirque have both remained frustratingly mum on the matter of which of their ten hotels will house the production. They assure that no shows will be closing to make room for the new addition and that the decision will be finalized in "about two months."
Don't Stop til You Get Enough
The Jackson-Cirque collaboration will go even beyond what we have come to expect from Cirque du Soleil. It will be bigger, better, and of course, "Bad."
It is important to note that the touring show will be different from the one housed on the Strip. "The touring arena show will be a simulation of a Michael Jackson concert," said John Branca, co-executor of the Jackson estate.
The Las Vegas show, on the other hand will be more similar to other Cirque shows in its pioneering, ingenuity, and risk taking. "We want to push the envelope with the permanent show, with the rigging and staging. That is the plan here," said Daniel Lamarre, Cirque's president and chief executive.
"One thing is clear for us. As Michael Jackson was ahead of his time, we have to be ahead of our time with this show. We have to use all the technology there is, and develop new technologies with those two shows to create a breakthrough as Michael did when he was touring. The pressure if very, very big on us to deliver on his fan's expectations."
The technologies featured in the permanent show include holograms, 3-D images and video panels, many of which Jackson helped to develop for his This Is It shows in London.
Like in Viva Elvis, Cirque will refrain from putting any Michael Jackson impersonator in the show. "No one can perform like Michael Jackson," said Branca. "But there will be dancing. Expect a lot of dancing, a lot of cutting-edge choreography and production."
Rock with You
The importance of fresh, innovative dancing to the tribute has lead to talks of a related reality show, possibly to air as early as next year. The show would follow the search for a choreographer in an American Idol and Dancing with the Stars style competition to help develop Cirque's Michael Jackson tour and permanent show.
Branca says the show would look for a dancer "who is cutting edge, from the outside, from the streets, who can bring that style that no one's ever seen before, like Michael always did." The chosen dancer would then join two professionals to help create routines tantamount to those Jackson displayed in his own tours and videos. The show might also function as an audition for dancers for the shows as well.
Part of the deal between Cirque and the Jackson estate includes the opening of a King of Pop-themed nightclub to operate in tandem with the Las Vegas show. And lucky for Las Vegans, we won't have to wait until 2012 to pay homage to the Jackson. The touring showcase will run in Montreal for two weeks in the fall of 2011 before coming to Mandalay Bay for a multiple week residency prior to setting off on the world tour.
The collaboration with Cirque recognizes Jackson's own adoration for the French-Canadian troupe. "He was a big Cirque fan and saw all our shows," said Lamarre. Jackson had even discussed creating something with Cirque years ago, but nothing materialized.
But what about you? Do you think the Michael Jackson-Cirque collaboration will be a total "Thriller" or are you just ready to tell Cirque to "Beat It" and leave your idols alone?