Despite the bizarro world that Michael Jackson's life became, his artistic legacy—music, dancing and videos—is immortal. He really was a singular talent. And like other similarly important artists from the rock 'n' roll era, like the Beatles and Elvis, there'll probably be many attempts to capitalize on his music for a long time after his death, which was three years ago this week. (Has it really been that long?)
Unfortunately, Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour, which just played two nights at American Airlines Center, is not one that will be worth remembering. Think of it as the equivalent of an umpteenth sequel of a movie that was inventive and successful the first few times, but then the producers kept beating that cash cow to death. Now the original stars, writers and editors are no longer involved and the result is an embarrassing snooze of a product.
Not all of Cirque's shows are knockouts, but none that I've seen are boring. Until now.
The arena show uses bizarre mixes and shortened versions of the songs, and in the first act, there are only a few of the really great songs mixed in with a whole bunch of paltry ones that no one except for hardcore fans, the people who actually bought his final studio album Invincible, remember.
As usual with Cirque, the costumes and visuals are amazing, but none of the cirque stunts in the first half are anything to write home about. And the video on a large white screen behind them is often a cloying match.
And let's not get into the dancing penny loafers (major dud) and the performer in a giant glove, bringing one of MJ's signature fashion accessories to life. It came off as a glittery version of the animated Hamburger Helper mascot, with all the grace of the Kool-Aid Man. And do we need a guy in a chimp suit to remind of MJ's quirky side, which ultimately leads to more unpleasant associations in the latter part of his career?
The first act ends with a lopped-off take on MJ's best visual moment, "Thriller," with only a few seconds of the famous choreography and—WTH?—mummies.
Mummies? When the zombie apocalypse happens, they need to first go after whoever thought mummies in a "Thriller" tribute made sense, although they wouldn't find much of their favorite snack—brains—there.
The second half is significanly better, with a few more memorable acts, including the swan aerial routine, the ninja aerialists/acrobats and the tumblers. The standout performer is Jean Sok, a one-legged dancer who uses his crutches as part of his street dancing routines. There's also a recurring and moving theme about MJ's committment to social issues, such as world hunger, in his songs, culminating with a powerful finale, a singalong of "Man in the Mirror."
The AAC was packed, and the diehard fans, with their gloves and hats, were eventually jamming in the aisles for the mega-mix of "Can You Feel It," "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," "Billie Jean" and "Black or White."
The show is best summed up by the bulky robotic soldiers during "Will You Be There/I'll Be There" whose breastplates glow with internationally understood signs, such as the peace sign. One of them is a dollar sign.
Obviously Cirque has become an international brand that, like everyone and every entity on the planet, has a goal of making money. But they usually accomplish that with style, innovation and breathtaking stunts.
This one comes off as an exploitation of some of the most memorable pop music of the 20th century in a shameless cash-grab. That's "2 Bad."
writes:Thursday, June 28 at 9:45AM
I don't know what show you saw. BUT, the show that I saw last night was WONDERFUL, EMOTIONAL, EXCITING and worth every damn dollar that I paid.
writes:Thursday, June 28 at 12:46PM
I agree with Shawn. For people who are MJ fans, despite his personal life, it's a great show. It's a complete honoring of his legacy and music. The music was great, the additional remixes and added instruments on top of the track were great! The Cirque stunts may have not been the best in comparison to other shows, but that wasn't the point of the show... it's a Michael Jackson showcase and any decent fan will appreciate it. The show has heart, anyone who didn't like it should check in with theirs.
writes:Thursday, June 28 at 4:01PM
That's "2 bad"! XD (Hilarious)
writes:Thursday, June 28 at 4:44PM
The show was great and I would see it again. It was worth the money. I've never seen a Cirque show before, but I will be seeing more now that I saw this one. Everyone around me said it was a great show and they loved it.
writes:Thursday, June 28 at 9:25PM
The show is call Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour. WORLD TOUR. It was meant to be the concert we never got to see. I would think anyone with even the slightest bit of sense would realize that. The reviewer should be ashamed to admit that you only know a few Michael songs. The BEST thing about the show was the depth of songs, and wonderful mixes. People that respected and loved Michael should not being forced to only hear the 4 or 5 songs most non-fans know. Your ticket was probably free. I paid for mine and would pay many times over to see it.
writes:Saturday, June 30 at 5:33PM
I enjoyed every minute of this show. Micheal Jackson was amazing, and Cirque Du Soleil did a fantatic job of letting the audience feel what many of us missed by not seeing him perform live. I thought the experience was bittersweet in that is was both exciting, touching, and powerful; as well as the feeling of loss of such an amazing star.
writes:Tuesday, July 3 at 3:49PM
I am 52 years old. I saw the Jackson 5 in 1970. I saw the Jacksons in 1980. I saw Michael Jackson as a solo performer in 1990. I saw the Michael Jackson Immortal Tour by Cirque du Soleil in Dallas last week and LOVED it! I have seen other Cirque performances before as well. The point of the MJ Immortal Tour is a tribute for people who loved MJ and his works of art. I was there when Michael came on the scene in 1970 and witnessed with millions of others his death. I am grateful for Cirque and the production team for this honorary tribute for the "king of pop".
writes:Saturday, July 21 at 1:36PM
I 100 percent agree with this review! There were a few moments that it was so boring, I wanted to yell awkward! Too bad to, we were so excited to see this. I am so easy to please when it comes to entertainment, and I was left bored and sorely disappointed.
writes:Wednesday, July 25 at 9:17PM
Not worth the money. The pole dancer, cellist, and one-legged break dancer were good. If you watch "So You Think You Can Dance" on TV you'll see better dancing. Wish they had picked some of MJ's other songs. Lots of reliance on really strong bass and drums, and some flashing lights. We stayed until the second half, it didn't get better, so we left.
writes:Saturday, December 29 at 6:59PM
I couldn´t agree more with the review. Boring, dissapointing, just a bunch of not-so-good dancers and very few circus numbers. I´m a huge Michael Jackson fan and I wan´t my money back.
writes:Wednesday, January 9 at 5:09AM
I went to see this show on Dec, 27 in Madrid, Spain. It was going to be the highlight of my Christmas holidays but it turned out to be the biggest disappointment. I am a fan of MJ since I was 8 y.o. and I have not only been able to see him live a couple of times, and being one of the lucky ones who visited Neverland, but I have also seen a few other shows. This was my first Cirque du Soleil show and I am afraid it will be my last. Overall it lacked the wow factor, it needed more people on stage, more acrobats; the mime, although a good dancer, was extremely annoying, in fact he was part of this pointless and not coherent story line; the elephants with the song "Ben" and the bull fighter at the end, well... I don't want to begin commenting on that because I will never end. This was the only show in Madrid where the pole dancer didn't perform on the pole and at least one of two of the shows where the aerial dancers didn't perform "I just can't stop loving you/Todo mi amor eres tu". The show programme and trailer showed a big tree, more acrobats and some pyrotechnics e.g. smooth criminal dancers with flare but our show didn't have them! I feel robbed and after reading many reviews I can see that I am not the only one. By the way, the soldiers did "They don't care about us" :-)
writes:Saturday, March 9 at 3:59PM
I went home during the break and was actually sad. No tribute at all, just one big medley with did no good to his songs. Michael was such a perfectionist, he would never agree with this show. It doesn't get close to what he wants to share through his songs. Thriller with fairy tale costumes...Not a tribute to such a talent.