Michael Jackson estate, Cirque du Soleil unveil plans for 'The Immortal World Tour'
So maybe "Michael Jackson's This Is It" wasn't quite it.
The Jackson estate and Cirque du Soleil announced plans Wednesday for a Jackson-themed touring production, "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour," that is set to open in Montreal in October. The arena tour, which combines the performer's choreography and music with the Quebecois acrobatic troupe's signature dance and aerial moves, will travel to 27 cities across North America and reach Los Angeles' Staples Center and Anaheim's Honda Center in January 2012.
The production's writer-director, Jamie King, served as Madonna's creative director for the last dozen years, overseeing her 2008 "Sticky & Sweet" world tour. More crucial to his new effort, however, King previously worked with the King of Pop, serving as a backup dancer for Jackson for two years on his 1992-93 "Dangerous" world tour.
According to King, "The Immortal World Tour" combines the kind of pop spectacle Jackson was known for with the esoteric, theatrical qualities associated with Cirque du Soleil productions such as "O," "KÀ" and "Zumanity."
"From the moonwalk to the iconic choreography we've seen in 'Thriller' and 'Beat It' and 'Bad' -- all his mini-movies and music videos -- mix that with the world of Cirque," King said in an interview with The Times. "You shake it and can literally turn it on its head. Imagine taking the moonwalk to new levels, to new heights. Being able to do the moonwalk literally as if you're on the moon, all the way around the arena."
Unlike such Las Vegas-based Cirque du Soleil productions as "Love" (a joint venture between the troupe and the Beatles’ Apple Corps that re-imagines the Fab Four's music within circus-based artistry) and "Viva Elvis" (a Cirque show developed in conjunction with Elvis Presley Enterprises that launched this year), the initial idea with "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" was to "bring Michael to the fans" and create the feeling of his concerts in an arena setting, said John Branca, co-executor of the Jackson estate.
"Cirque has not done a show with Elvis or the Beatles or any other historic rock 'n' roll icon that has gone into arenas and toured North America or the world, so it was exciting to be able to do something that had not been done before," Branca said. "Ultimately, there will be a separate show residing permanently in Las Vegas. That show is a couple of years off."
-- Chris Lee
Photo: A scene from the film "Michael Jackson's This Is It." Associated Press / AEG / Sony Pictures