NEWARK, New Jersey — Music, dance and acrobatics combine in celebration of Michael Jackson’s iconic life in the “Immortal” World Tour. From trapeze artists to acrobats and even a world-champion pole dancer, guests at the Cirque du Soleil show can expect a high-energy tribute to the legend.
The tour stopped for two nights in Newark, New Jersey, this past weekend (its 40th stop) and will open Tuesday night (April 3) at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where it will remain through Thursday. From there, it will continue across North America through the summer before heading to Europe in the fall.
Having already produced the Beatles “Love” show in Las Vegas, Cirque is no stranger to musical tributes.
“Immortal” serves as a sensory explosion that starts on the subdued side and progresses in both spectacle and energy. More than 60 artists perform to 32 songs in a presentation that feels much like a concert with an ensemble of circus-inspired acts elegantly melding together. The stage is two levels with a long peninsula extending into the audience, where the majority of the acrobatics takes place. MJ’s famed choreographic style was present in nearly all the numbers, and the audacious task of the performers was well-received by the audience.
The progression of the musical numbers moved seamlessly. The energy kicked into high gear with Jackson-like characters performing “Fanatics Medley” as Jackson 5 — one of them in MJ’s signature fedora and another as a gold-suited mime. Jackson’s youth was remembered in “Childhood” during which a recording of Jackson’s voice referred to his early stardom as he sang, “Have you seen my childhood?/ It’s been my fate to compensate/ For the childhood I’ve never known.”
While the moving screens, elaborate stage designs and detailed costumes were impressive, one of the most awe-inspiring moments was witnessing what the human body is capable of during the pole-dancing number. Felix Cane, a two-time world pole-dancing champion, maneuvered in the sky dancing on a pole — with no harness — appropriately performing to “Dangerous,” as the audience was captivated by her every move.
Another highlight was “Human Nature,” during which the back screens were dominated by Neverland graphics and an image of a young Michael sitting on the moon. In front of the backdrop, a half-dozen artists wrapped in multicolored LED costumes soared through the air in sync, representing the constellations.
“Beat It” got the crowd moving while they watched performers in MJ’s signature accessories, including his famous glove and penny loafers, dance in dynamic movement. A rock-infused duel between an electric guitar and electric cello capped the song.
After an elaborate performance to “Black or White,” as the night seemed to be over and the audience slowly started spilling into the aisles, the lights illuminated one last time for an encore to “Man in the Mirror.” The artists appeared to take a bow in front of exploding fireworks.
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