Cirque du Soleil: Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour™

Vector Arena, Parnell, Auckland

30/10/2013 - 03/11/2013

Production Details


“This lavish show, featuring the company’s trademark spectacular acrobatics and stunning visuals, is not all that different from the theatrical extravaganzas of today’s arena concerts.” New York Post

The Estate of Michael Jackson and Cirque du Soleil announced that Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour™ will tour to New Zealand in October 2013. This once-in-a-lifetime electrifying production uses Cirque du Soleil creativity to give fans worldwide a unique view into the spirit, passion and heart of the artistic genius who forever transformed global pop culture. Written and directed by Jamie King, the show includes 49 international dancers, musicians and acrobats. Since its world premiere in Montreal in October 2011, the enormously successful arena production has thrilled audiences across North America, Europe and Asia. 

Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour is a riveting fusion of visuals, dance, music and fantasy that immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world. Aimed at lifelong fans as well as those experiencing Michael’s creative genius for the first time, the show captures the essence, soul and inspiration of the King of Pop, celebrating a legacy that continues to transcend generations. 

THE IMMORTAL World Tour takes place in a fantastical realm where we discover Michael’s inspiration and the wellspring of his creativity. The secrets of Michael’s inner world are unlocked—his love of music and dance, fairy tale and magic, and the fragile beauty of nature. 

The underpinnings of THE IMMORTAL World Tour are Michael Jackson’s powerful, inspirational music and lyrics—the driving force behind the show—brought to life with extraordinary power and breath-taking intensity. Through unforgettable performances Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour underscores Michael’s global messages of love, peace and unity. 

Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour
will be presented for a strictly limited engagement at Auckland’s
Vector Arena from
Wednesday, October 30 to Sunday, November 3. 
Tickets available at
or by calling 0800 111 999.
Tickets range from $99 to $179 each. 

Writer and Director Jamie King is a multiple Emmy Award® and MTV Video Music Award® nominee and has choreographed some of the most popular music videos and directed some of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time. For the past 12 years, he has served as Madonna’s creative director, and most recently directed world tours for Rihanna, Celine Dion, Spice Girls and Britney Spears. King has worked with an array of superstars including Ricky Martin, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Shakira, George Michael, Elton John, Diana Ross and Jennifer Lopez. This is Jamie’s first show with Cirque du Soleil.

Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour features the diverse talents of the following creative minds: Guy Laliberté – Creative Guide; Gilles Ste-Croix – Creative Guide; Chantal Tremblay – Director of Creation; Jamie King – Writer and Director; Carla Kama – Associate Show Director; Kevin Antunes – Musical Designer; Greg Phillinganes – Music Director; Mark Fisher – Set Designer; Michael Curry – Props and Scenic Designer; Zaldy Goco – Costume Designer; Germain Guillemot – Acrobatic Performance Designer; Scott Osgood – Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer; Olivier Goulet – Projection Designer; Martin Labrecque – Lighting Designer; François Desjardins – Sound Designer; Travis Payne – Choreographer; Rich and Tone Talauega – Choreographers; Debra Brown – Acrobatic Choreographer; Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo – Choreographers; Jamal Sims – Choreographer; Cloud and Tamara Levinson – Choreographers; Mandy Moore – Choreographer; Florence Cornet – Makeup Designer. 

Cirque-aerial-theatre ,

Fresh, alive and fun

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 31st Oct 2013

As you’d expect with any Cirque Du Soleil show, there are world-class dancers, musicians, guest artists, acrobats and special effects, the length of the stage and beyond… 

However, almost every time the roar of the crowd goes up, it is for the music, mastery and magic, that is (sorry, was) Michael Jackson. And that’s Immortal’s most appealing trait: it is the closest we will ever get to MJ’s own extravaganza, This Is It.  

Of course, as this show reveals, no one comes close to the man himself, which is why the creatives decide not to give any solo singer or solo dancer, the overwhelming task of ‘playing Michael Jackson’ at any stage. Sound-wise, while the band and backing vocalists are live, it is MJ’s voice (and often his original tracks) that lead every song.

Recreating MJ visually is done with snippets of iconic choreography, physicality and styling, showcased among typical Cirque Du Soleil offerings, such as self-contained solo performances between major ensemble items, as well as ground-breaking costuming and interactive set designs.

The show is an absolute celebration of pop’s finest artistic genius and there is no doubt the evening captures the best of MJ’s outspoken cheese, cliché, naivety, optimism, and emotion, through literal and creative storytelling. Courtroom controversy will always be a feeding frenzy for tabloids and paparazzi and so, of course, it has no place here.

In terms of the overall creative direction, any collaboration between brand-MJ and brand-CDS, is a staggering challenge: should it be lead by the spirit of ‘The King Of Pop’ or should it be lead by the self-defining visual symphony that Cirque Du Soleil is famous for? The creative team attempts an equal union and for the most part, the marriage is a good one. The show is fresh, alive and fun, with the usual magic Cirque-dust and precision. 

It’s not without the occasional clash, however. Now and then, the art is less than it could be because there is simply too much going on. Every MJ song is perfectly formed. So to add or subtract – as of course any collaboration and reinterpretation must – the challenge is to make the end result, both visually and orally, as stunning as the original.  

From my perspective, the best moments of fusion are:

1. The reveal, creation and opening of the gates to Neverland – in true Cirque Du Soleil style, and in real time, with technical brilliance; set and screen design worthy of global awards, while – after thrilling footage of the actual man dominates the screens – the kick-butt Immortal band play Wanna Be Starting Something and the Cirque dancers invade the stage (including crowd favorite, one-legged dancer Jean Sok, who – like all in the ensemble – dances with full force). 

2. The five MJ-super-fans (the crowd go nuts at the first hint of a moonwalk) who channel MJ magic with energy and dedication. They interact with the screens as if they are in an MJ play station game, sliding images with a touch, and on the beat. These uplifting guys totally own the interval, so be quick in the loo! As my 10 year old Ella said, “This is so much fun!”   

3. Smooth Criminal: the live feed to the screens is an authentic sepia tone, fusing brilliantly next to MJ’s amazing original footage, plus Cirque add 9 male dancers who showcase MJ’s famous ‘leaning motion’, to perfection.

4. The beautifully Dangerous pole dancer, Anna Melnikova, who achieves the seemingly impossible, with her super-strong-core.  

5. The duel between electric cello, played by bikini-and-sequined-stiletto-clad Mariko, and guitarist Desiree Bassett. The cellist gives it so much, by the end, half the horsehair on her bow has shredded.

6. Solo mime artist Mansour Abdessadok, who captures and reinterprets some of the muscular separation and limb precision that MJ owned. 

7. Human Nature – beautiful. It is the perfect song choice in terms of mood and tempo, for the four incredible LED constellations, which are like human shooting stars. Kudos to the audio engineer here: it is so very hard to combine and balance pre recorded voice and instrumental with live backing vocals and band, yet throughout the night, the blend is near perfect.

8. The grace and simplicity of the ‘straps’ duo (Luba Kazantseva and Hampus Jansson) soaring above us during I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.

9. Scream is visual joy with precise timing and cohesion as acrobats fling themselves around the stage, matching the passion and desperation of MJ’s vocals. This item wins ‘best exit’ of the night, hands down.

10. They Don’t Care About Us is equally stunning, with full focus given to the extraordinary costumed tin-soldiers, who then segue into a heart-felt tribute moment for MJ which flows into the crowd. As the crowd scream for their hero – whose image is projected on a white cloth, in his famous Christ-like pose – I feel like I’m at a Michael Jackson fan convention. Sure enough, on cue, someone from the crowd yells out, “I love you Michael!” The surreal moment is broken in true Kiwi-style, as someone else yells back, “I love you Taylor Swift.” 

Once or twice, an item just does not resonate with me:
Ben is given African beats, as two elaborately costumed elephants come on stage, to celebrate MJ’s love of animals. My 10-year-old daughter adores the monkey who joins the elephants after it’s hijacked the lighting desk, as she thinks it is “really funny”. I appreciate it is a nod to MJ’s Bubbles, but the animals do not move me. (Fun fact: Bubbles is apparently still alive and living in a retirement home in Florida.) 

Occasionally, a vision feels cluttered: 
Thriller is incredible, but with bats and mummies everywhere, I feel like the lighting designer didn’t know who to serve and what to focus on. Neither do I. 

While Beat It is loaded – giant shoes and a glove, plus a West Side Story feel to the choreography, with gangs and musicians everywhere – it is the original footage of MJ staring down the lens that I find far more engaging.

Similarly, in Earth Song, which is already overloaded with ideals, it is the footage that has my eyes, rather than the mass of dancers walking round, each holding up a world.   

The final mega-mix is uneven. Led by Can You Feel It, it is packed with ideas, styles and colours – yet without that solo singer to focus on, I feel detached to start with. Flags can be so messy too. However, the return of LED costumes in Billie Jean is an absolute (and I cannot express this enough) show-stopper.   

In summary, while Cirque Du Soleil extravaganzas give my eyes inspiration for weeks after exposure (and this show is absolutely no exception), in this instance, it is Cirque’s celebration of Michael Jackson’s gift of perfect pop that engages all my senses. There will never be another like him. RIP MJ.


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