Despite having seen all seven of Las Vegas’ Cirque du Soleil shows, all but one of them two or three times, when I headed to wintery Montreal (Cirque headquarters!), I had no idea what to expect. The brand has already put its mark on the legendary Beatles and Elvis Presley, but Michael Jackson? For some reason, this was different. And I was going to see first-hand, at the world premiere of The Immortal, Cirque du Soleil’s stadium tribute to the late, great Michael Jackson. The excitement was building fast! The show was about to embark on a tireless North American tour. Its only prolonged stop? Las Vegas, of course!Twenty-four nights in Sin City, starting December 3. A more theatrical version of the Michael Jackson spectacle will eventually settle in Sin City permanently. I can’t wait!
Montreal had been enjoying some gorgeous fall weather — until the day before we arrived. The night of the premiere? Freezing cold rain! So the entire red carpet was moved inside. It was a little cramped, but thrilling. There’s nothing like fighting for space when huge TV cameras are ready to take you out! I’m not coordinated enough to take photos AND interview at the same time, so please excuse the strange angles of my pictures, as I snapped shots while the stars were busy with other reporters.
The most emotional moments came from Jackson family members. I have better photos of Michael’s kids, but I liked this one, because Prince, Paris and Blanket are all looking at the photo of their Dad. Can you imagine if your father was Michael Jackson?
Marlon, Tito and Jackie Jackson were so sweet. Not only did Jackie help me with my luggage at the airport (he lives in Vegas), but they were so genuine on the red carpet. A few minutes after our interview, Michael’s mom, Katherine, swept by, clearly overcome by emotion. She said only that she was “very, very excited.”
After the show, I waited backstage with two others on my Vegas field trip: the lovely Molly Ancell from our local Vegas Cirque office, and my colleague Robin Leach. I loved his leather pants!
The next day, we toured backstage, a bunch of dorky reporters with a million questions! Here, I am standing on the stage, interviewing Greg Phillinganes and Kevin Antunes, musical director and musical designer. For their stories and more, you’ll have to wait for the next issue of Vegas magazine!
It was a maze backstage, between the costumes, props and catering. The man in charge of costumes, Zaldy Goco, had been the wardrobe guru on This Is It, the tour that Michael Jackson worked so hard on but never performed live, since he died before his time in June, 2009.
This high-tech puppet rode in a hot-air balloon during the show, a true feat from a master prop maestro, Michael Curry. Not only had he been working on This Is It, but The Immortal is his fifth Cirque show. He’s a pro, a true genius!
Check out the trailer and tour schedule here. With 47 stops on the itinerary so far, Immortal is sure to be coming somewhere near you! If not, see you in Vegas? Michael Jackson The Immortal
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