The dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” never gets old. Listening to “Man in the Mirror,” never tires either. Michael’s timeless songbook fueled the stellar sales for Cirque du Soleil’s new touring arena show “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.” For three straight nights the venue was near capacity with rabid fans ready to listen to Jackson’s recorded voice and witness the spectacle that Cirque has created.
This audience was so amped up anything would have elicited applause. The musicians were the ultimate professionals. Hearing an unknown musician rip off a guitar solo or, in some cases, a violin solo, was entertaining. Witnessing Cirque’s talented performers flying above the audience in attire that had them looking like sparkling constellations against a night sky was amazing. No denying the talent and precise execution of a Cirque production. But it lacked something. A story line was non existent, not that one was needed, but it would have made the two hour show blend better.
All of Jackson’s greatest hits were covered and at times the infectious melody of a classic Jackson 5 song got the audience on their feet. Dancing along with the performers. More of that would have been welcomed. Much of the show focused on the insane talents of the Cirque performers. But other times the music was in the spotlight.
Cirque’s other ventures into the music world include a show based on Elvis and another celebrating The Beatles. Both of those work well. Much of the success is based on the venue. Cirque has permanent theater’s for both productions.
The Cirque team is very good at transporting the audience to another universe. That’s possible with performers engaging the crowds from the minute they step foot in the door. No Cirque performers were greeting folks at the door in San Jose. The sold out arena was much too large to bring the performers any closer than a catwalk. Another world was simply not created and at times this felt like a rock concert that a circus troupe choreographed a dance routine to.
There were multiple jaw dropping moments. But those were over powered by the one’s that didn’t work. A man dressed as Jackson’s famed pet monkey Bubbles careening through the aisles was a reach and didn’t elicit a peep from the audience. Neither did two performers adorned in a blinged-out-over-sized white glove wandering the stage during “Bad.” It looked like a prop that would be used in a rap video for Hamburger Helper.
There were a few routines that fell flat. Overall the good outdid the not-so-good and it was a memorable night. They were shooting for that live Michael Jackson experience with a twist. What they didn’t anticipate was that Michael was the only one that could deliver that exhilarating experience. He was the star of the show. And while some of the dance routines were less than fantastic you could just close your eyes and let the thumping bass of Jackson’s music take you away.