Review: 'Michael Jackson: The Immortal'

February 26, 2012
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It’s telling that, during the climactic mega mix of “Can You Feel It,” “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough,” “Billy Jean” and “Black or White,” band members for “Michael Jackson: The Immortal” (at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Feb. 24-25) had to nearly beg audiences members to get on their feet and clap along.

And by the time Michael Jackson (recorded, obviously) was singing his insistence that the kid was not his son, most of those who had risen had already settled back into their seats.

Certainly, the Cirque du Soleil powers that be had plenty of material to work with. And they’ve got a seeming endless supply of acrobats, musicians, and dancers up to the task of making manifest whatever the collective Cirque imagination could dream up.

But, in this case, the dreams don’t quite coalesce into a show worthy of its subject or of the massive effort taken to bring them to the stage.

The misguided choices are many. There’s a central figure—a metallic mime—without the personality (or lighting design) to hold attention on stage the way that the best Cirque clowns have done in past productions. There’s a dancing chimp-suited guy and a cartooned afro-sporting J5 dance crew with nothing interesting to do but way too much stage time to do it. There’s too much emphasis on would-be-deep Jackson songs (i.e. the “Childhood” theme from “Free Willy” and “Earth Song”) and not enough Cirque wonder. And something is wrong when you can’t make “Thriller” thrilling.

Even in a disappointing Cirque du Soleil show, though, there are jaw-dropping moments. “The Immortal” features stunning visuals which, when working in conjunction with—rather than distracting from—the onstage action, are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. An early sequence featuring wall climbing dancers appearing to run atop moving train cars is extraordinary and promises wonders that the rest of the show doesn’t deliver.

And there’s a one-legged acrobat with infectious energy and superhuman abilities who seems ripe for his own place in a Cirque spotlight.

“Michael Jackson—The Immortal,” without the mortal Michael, feels like a concert rehearsal waiting for the star to show up.

  • Strange review
    This is one of the few negative reviews I have read on this show. Most reviews have been excellent. I guess you can't please everybody.
    • Agree with critic
      I agree.....this show was lackluster at best. If you have been to other Cirque shows, there was really no comparison with the wonder of a true cirque du soliel experience. I walked out wishing I could have my money back.
    • accurate
      I was there and this is a completely accurate review. There were shining moments, but all in all, it was way too much dancing which was only viewable to the floor seats and very little WOW factor that most expect with Cirque De Soliel. The
    • Don't believe Lou
      Totally disagree with this review. My first Cirque show, so maybe I didn't have anything awesome to compare it to. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but I agree that the audience was a little flat. I felt conflicted between getting into the music and taking in the spectacle that was Cirque. The performers were magical and the musicians were fantastic. I thought it was a good mix of MJ's early music and his later hard-hitting music. The lady next to me cried (not because she didn't like the performance!) during the show and the people I was with, had a blast and left the show on cloud 9! I think the King of Pop would be proud!!
    • Such a missed opportunity for a breathtaking show
      I was there. I agree that this was a totally missed opportunity for a breathtaking and spellbinding show. The performers were fabulous!!! They had no part in the failure of the show. The failure was due to the following: many songs were songs that most of the crowd didn't know, Thriller was a mish-mash, not the Thriller that we all know and can sing along with, the depressing sequences were too numerous to count. Every time the crowd would begin to get into the show and the music the creators of this show would turn to negative, heart renching scenes of starving children, racial horrors, etc. The focus should have been on MJ's brilliance as a songwriter, vocalist, dancer, etc. Not the very sad parts of his life -- like his lost childhood. So very sad that my husband & I left feeling depressed. It didn't need to be that way. Again, the performers were brilliant -- but the creator of the show totally missed the mark of what 99% of the attendees were looking for.
    • Agree with "One who was there"
      I do agree with "One who was there". I liked the show and enjoyed it, BUT I also think it did not live up to MJ or Cirque. I thought it would be the same type of performance that Cirque usually does with the music of MJ. My main complaint with Cirque is the music, the French music just doesn't do it for me so I was excited to have Cirque with music that I would know. I just wasn't enough Cirque for me. Loved the "tech" of the show - some really cooling lighting and video stuff. The body suits of LED Lights was very cool. The main video display was cool. I expect no less on that type of stuff from Cirque. I've never seen the Cirque "tribute" shows before - how is the Beatles Cirque show compare to this one?

      P.S. - I had the pleasure of sitting right behind Lou. It was a weird expercience of watching the show, watching him make notes, and then thinking I wonder what he is going to write while watching the same thing. Weird.
    • YRIM
      Lou - will there be a You Review It Monday? Some great concerts last week!

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