Before his untimely death at 50, Michael Jackson was the eccentric king of popular music. He loved monkeys, moonwalking, and sparkly clothes, and his 1982 album Thriller, packed with hits like "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and, of course, the title track, is the best selling LP in the history of recorded music.
Cirque du Soleil is an eccentric 28-year-old Canadian entertainment company that dramatically reinvented the circus arts by mixing in street dance and strange, sparkly costumes. When you bring these two creative forces together, you get Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour, an appropriately sparkly and eccentric homage to Jackson and the childlike qualities that, for better or worse, defined the artist's public image.
Immortal transforms dancers into graffiti artists and showcases circus performers against a backdrop of projected video clips depicting Jackson through the ages. Although Cirque du Soleil doesn't employ animal performers, Bubbles, Jackson's pet chimpanzee, does show up as a man in a monkey suit. Another performer dons a human-sized replica of Jackson's famous white sequined glove and makes it dance around like some kind of disco starfish. There are clowns in Afro wigs, mimes re-creating Jackson's signature moves, and plenty of aerial acts.
Immortal is less a biographical sketch of Jackon's life than an abstract response to his public and private lives. It's not a circus, dance, drama, or musical concert but a hodgpodge of ideas that owe as much to Jackson's Neverland fantasies as they do to his artistic achievements.
"Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour" at FedExForum Wednesday, June 20th, 8 p.m., $50-$250.