Michael Jackson may have left this realm and travelled on to Neverland in 2009, but the creative Québécois clowns at Cirque du Soleil have ensured he will live on in a new large-scale production.
Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal world tour, stops in Ottawa for two performances July 24 and 25 and will feature prolific queer dancer and choreographer Leo Moctezuma.
Moctezuma has appeared in such films as Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and Dreamgirls and has toured with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Pink in support of her Funhouse world tour.
Moctezuma calls his time touring with Pink a “definite highlight” of his career and says the choreography featured in Immortal is sure to leave audiences moonwalking out of Scotiabank Place.
Emmy-nominated director Jamie King wrote and conceptualized the show, which promises to capture Jackson’s passion for dance.
Many of the show’s choreographers worked directly with Jackson, and Alberta-born Tara Young, Immortal's creative director, calls the show “very authentic and true to Michael.”
“The show was brought together by two extraordinary forces, one being Cirque du Soleil and the other being Michael Jackson
,” Young says.
“Michael Jackson had many messages. One was of hope and another was that anything is possible. Whenever you see a Cirque show you truly believe anything is possible because of what they do onstage.”
Immortal features 61 performers who not only dance, but also sing, play live instruments and, in true Cirque du Soleil fashion, execute astounding acrobatic feats.
Young says her favourite moments of the show include the renditions of "Smooth Criminal," "Dangerous" and "I’ll Be There."
“We have so much happening onstage,” she says. “Then it can come to a song like "I’ll Be There" and just be Michael on the video screen singing the song with Greg Phillinganes, who performed with Michael Jackson, playing keyboards in the background. It’s a beautiful moment that touches everyone.”
A Broadway veteran, Young has worked as an associate choreographer on several productions, including The Little Mermaid
and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Her big break came at the tender age of 18, when she was cast as a dancer opposite Liza Minnelli
in Stepping Out
at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. Young also appeared in the film version of Stepping Out
and giggles when she recalls the time she spent with Minnelli.
“My dreams came true,” Young says. “I got to New York and Liza took me to Radio City Music Hall and had it opened for us. We went and stood on that stage together as she held my hand. That was an amazing moment. I learned a lot from Liza.”
Young says that, aside from being good friends, Minnelli and Jackson possessed many of the same characteristics.
“Liza is someone who strives for excellence every day and always wants to improve herself. There is always room to grow. Michael Jackson, I didn’t know him, but everyone tells me he was the same way.”