Michael Jackson: One

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Michael Jackson: One
Michael Jackson: One logo/brand
Company Cirque du Soleil
Genre Contemporary circus
Show type Resident
Date of premiere May 23, 2013
Location Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Creative team
Writer and director Jamie King
Creation director Welby Altidor
Associate show director Carla Kama
Musical designer Kevin Antunes
Set and Props designer Francois Séguin
Costume designer Zaldy Goco
"Man in Mirror" scene creators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon
Choreographers Travis Payne, Rich and Tone Talauega, Parris Goebel, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Ivan Velez, Olivier Simola
Acrobatic performance designers Germain Guillemot, Rob Bollinger
Acrobatic choreographers Ben Potvin, Andrea Ziegler
Projection designers Raymond St-Jean, Jimmy Lakatos
Lighting designer David Finn
Sound designer Jonathan Deans
Acrobatic equipment and rigging designer Pierre Masse
Makeup designer Nathalie Gagné
Other information
Preceded by Amaluna (2012)
Succeeded by Kurios (2014)
Official website

Michael Jackson: One is the second Michael Jackson-based production in Cirque du Soleil's roster, after Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. It was announced to the public and media on February 21, 2013.[1][2] In their continuing partnership with the Jackson estate, One evokes the entertainer's artistic style in several manners. The new production began previews on May 23, 2013 and the official world premiere was June 29, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Like The Immortal World Tour, this production was also written and directed by Jamie King[3] "Sneak peek" videos were released on the internet revealing numbers of the production, including "2 Bad", "Stranger in Moscow", "Bad" and "Smooth Criminal".

In Michael Jackson ONE, Michael’s artistry and spirit are expressed through the vibrant energy of the cast of 63 dancers and performers, underscored by aerial performance, driving acrobatics, and vivid choreography that use the urban/hip hop idiom as a springboard for exploration.

ONE is a heartfelt tribute to the work, innovative spirit, and legacy of Michael Jackson – the King of Pop, the genius, the visionary, the One.[4]

The Show[edit]

The show's plot is centered around four "misfits" who set out on a journey into Michael Jackson's world and music. By journey's end, they personify Jackson's agility, courage, playfulness and love. These values are represented with his white gloves, white socks and black shoes, hat and sunglasses.

Each of four main characters receive an object from Jackson. First, Clumsy is given the shoes, and with his newfound balance, performs a double slackline act to "Bad". Next, Shy overcomes her name when she receives Jackson's glasses, and she vanquishes a troupe of warriors in a martial arts display set to "2000 Watts" and "Jam". Then, Smarty Pants, the de facto leader of the four, puts on Jackson's hat and is imbued with the artist's legendary gracefulness in "Smile". Sneaky performs a playful manipulation act with the rogue glove to "This Place Hotel" and "Workin' Day and Night".

Michael Jackson Theatre[edit]

The Michael Jackson Theatre was exclusively remodeled to meet the needs for the show, with no live orchestra as opposed to Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. The sound system in the theater was created exclusively for the production. The design of the sound system was built to immerse the audience in a concert ambiance, enabling them to hear Michael Jackson's hits in a way that they've never heard before. Some of the sound feels like it surrounds the audience or comes from above or behind. This is partly due to the installed speakers within each individual theater's seats. Sound designer, Jonathan Deans took all of the musical layers and strategically assigned them to appropriate speakers throughout the theater. This way, various sounds will come from different angles, providing an experience as if the audience was standing on stage in the middle of an orchestra. Because of the technology that went into the seat design, the audience can in fact hear certain sounds that have never been heard before.[5]

Musical Director, Kevin Antunes, added layers and instruments to the music, and brought certain unnoticed elements of the songs to the fore. He added a lot of power to the guitar solos, including the pick slides, whammy bar and other 1980s dive sounds. Included in cast of 61 dancers and acrobats, are one vocalist and one guitarist performing live on stage.[6]

Michael Jackson ONE is the first large-scale production developed for the theater themed around the music and world of the King of Pop. Set Designer, François Séguin, was largely inspired by the Dangerous (Michael Jackson album). So he designed the stage to incorporate large moving towers, with dynamic and versatile decor. Séguin designed the theater to come to life with lights and video projections. The TV screens and statuettes are inspired by the baroque style along with the rosettes painted on the proscenium.

Mephisto is a key part of the set and a "character" in the show. A malevolent machine, this mechanical monster is made up of technological innovations like televisions, cameras, flashes, microphones, tungsten bulbs, surveillance equipment and various other objects.

Video content plays a big role in the story line. It assists in fluidly transition the story through each tableaux, and escalate the excitement that the story exudes. The video images on the proscenium, the audiovisual walls, the tulle screen and other projection surfaces enhances show’s vibrant, immerse atmospheres, as does the video content projected onto the four moving towers on stage and the LED screen upstage. The theater also uses an infrared tracking system allowing video content to be projected on the artists as they move about on stage.[7]

Other fun facts:[8]

  • On stage, four large towers used as projection surfaces, move from side to side and go up and down, even turning into platforms for the dancers and acrobats.
  • The stage has 66 winches with speeds of up to 12 ft per second.
  • Hanging from the ceiling, two 96-ft overhead tracks have two acrobatic trolleys each for moving artists, some of whom fly over the audience from the back of the house.
  • The rocket in the Tabloid Junkies scene is a nod to the Michael Jackson video Leave Me Alone.
  • Each of the theatre’s 1,804 seats has three speakers – left, right and center – for a total of 5,412 seat speakers.
  • Apart from the 587 lighting fixtures, there are 295 custom LED fixtures built into the show’s various set pieces.
  • For the projections, the stage is equipped with 1 LED track with 8 trolleys, each trolley supporting 8 LED panels.
  • 26 projectors display video content on the stage and around the proscenium.
  • In addition to the projectors, there are 11 TV monitors and a 40-ft-wide, 30-ft-high LED wall made up of 8 separate columns.

Costume[edit]

Signature pieces of Michael Jackson's historical fashion statements were incorporated throughout the production and story line of Michael Jackson ONE. This includes his infamous fedora, white gloves, penny loafers, and shades. Within the production, the story line incorporates these pieces as a force of talisman and a symbolic representation of Michael Jackson's spirit.[9]

Wardrobe Designer for Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, Zaldy Goco's mission "was to find ways to make an impression and surprise Michael's fans" through his designs. Zaldy grouped the characters' costumes into 2 families: one representing light, Michael's world, while the other represents darkness and the world of the character Mephisto, the hero's nemesis. The first family (light and Michael's world) of costumes incorporates light tones, rainbow colors, and white. The second family (darkness and Mephisto) of costumes are designed with darker tones like black, red, and navy blue. The color red is associated with a few characters like the Tabloid Junkies, Dirty Diana, Paparazzi, Mephisto, and his minions. All antagonists to the King the of Pop.

Zaldy wanted to portray a more graphic, Manga-style feel to the costumes so he used material that can provide stiff shapes, but can also be stretchable and flexible so that the artists can be comfortable enough to move about during performances. This led to his use of neoprene as a foundation for majority of the costumes.

The costumes in Michael Jackson ONE brim with visual effects and illusions of all kinds. Some costume close-ups:

  • The shape-shifting gangster-type characters in the “Smooth Criminal” scene remove their navy blue trench coats, revealing their pinstriped suits underneath. The artists’ backside is all white, but when the lights go out, the black light reveals UV drawings all over the artists’ backs and faces. The drawings represent dragon tattoos inspired by the real, full-body tattoos traditionally worn by the Yakuza, members of Japanese organized crime.
  • Inflatables were used in the costumes of the characters in the “Tabloid Junkies” scene. During their act, the artists trip a switch in their costume that causes a carbon dioxide explosion in their tiny backpacks. A hood in the shape of a dog’s head pops out of the packs and over the artists’ head, instantly turning them into dog-like characters.
  • Inspired by Michael Jackson's fondness of Swarovski crystals, and all things glittery and glamorous, the “Dirty Diana” costume contains over 7,000 Swarovski crystals.
  • The glitter on the costume of the guitarist who plays the Muse character – a conduit for Michael’s music – was created with the same technique used for one of Michael’s costumes in the THIS IS IT show: the costume is braided with clear pockets filled with Swarovski crystals. With the Muse’s costume, Zaldy pays tribute to the last ever costume designed for Michael Jackson. Her guitar shoots 30-foot streams of pyro.
  • The material of the trench coats worn by the “Smooth Criminal” characters looks like silk. It is made of a high-end French fabric woven from a plastic material that gives the costume a liquid shine. When the rhythmic gymnasts do cartwheels, their coat seem to hang in the air, emphasizing their graceful, swirling motions.
  • The capes of the “Tabloid Junkies” characters are lined with tabloid headlines about Michael Jackson in several languages.
  • The fedora hats used in the show come from the same maker that made Michael Jackson’s fedora hats.
  • There are approximately 1,150 costume pieces in the show.
  • The artists’ costumes in the “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Billie Jean” scenes are equipped with hundreds of LED lights. The costumes are designed in such a way that the performers disappear completely and the only thing the audience sees is the movement and changing colors of the LED lights.

Characters[edit]

  • Michael Jackson - the misfits' spirit guide[10]
  • Mephisto - the antagonist who represents the paparazzi and tabloid media
  • Clumsy - the misfit who gains balance with Jackson's white socks and black loafers
  • Shy - the misfit who uses Jackson's sunglasses to overcome her introversion
  • Smarty Pants - the de facto leader of the misfits; uses Jackson's fedora to display gracefulness
  • Sneaky - the troublemaking misfit who performs a playful manipulation act using Jackson's sparkly glove
  • Ngame - a benevolent moon goddess. She watches over the misfits journey, seated upon a crescent moon and singing along with Michael
  • Tabloid Junkies - the elite servants of Mephisto, they symbolize the dehumanizing tabloid media
  • The Muse - The lead guitarist of the show, she is a conduit of Michael's music
  • Various Villains - opponents whom the misfits encounter and must defeat to complete their adventurous journey
  • Smooth Criminals - rhythmic gymnasts who battle with Michael's dance corps.

Acts[edit]

  • The Vortex: The four misfits sneak into a show and gets sucked into a vortex.[11]
  • Time Tripping: Everyone steps into a magical world inspired by Michael's imagination. Above the audience, rotating bungees perform to the song, "Beat It."
  • Hide & Seek: Mephisto and the Tabloid Junkies first appearance.
  • Lost and Alone: The Spanish web lament to the loneliness of the Beggar Boy, which was inspired by the song "Stranger in Moscow".
  • Clumsy and the Shoes: Clumsy learns how to live in his body as he does a double slack line act with the help of Michael's magical shoes.
  • The Smooth Criminals: Mephisto's Smooth Criminals, who are gymnasts, battle with MJ Warriors, Michael's dance corps.
  • Human Nature/ Michael's Magic Trunk: Wink glides on stage as he performs a number to one of Michaels magical songs.
  • Shy and Glasses: Shy finds her inner courage with the help of Michael's sunglasses, and battles Mephisto in a fearless display of martial arts.
  • The Warriors of Peace: The MJ Warriors perform a striking choreography in unison in a tableau that conveys a strong message.
  • Ngame Gives Birth: This shadow play act introduces Ngame, the Mother Mood Goddess, who ushers a new beginning.
  • Our Heros Regroup: Smarty Pants discovers Michael's magical hat and rediscovers her childlike heart.
  • Smarty Pant & The Hat: Smarty pants joins in on a towering hat juggling act.
  • MJ's Girls: The MJ Girls' pay homage to Michael, and the MJ Boys' pay homage to the MJ Girls' in a choreographic dance number.
  • Dirty Diana: Dirty Diana – Mephisto’s Siren – and the Muse – a conduit for Michael’s music – go head to head, leading to a staggering, one-of-a-kind pole dancing act.
  • Sneaky & The Glove: Sneaky does a "hand in glove" manipulation act.
  • The Billie Jeans: Michael's warriors dress in glowing LED costumes and dance to the music.
  • Mephisto's Trap: The Tabloid Junkies shape shift into the Werewoolf Dogs while the Heroes and the talismans are captured.
  • Mephisto Triumphant: The Thrillers and the Ghoulds celebrate Mephisto's victory in a full thrall, leaping, and flipping in a gravity-defying performance that combines inverted trampoline and trampo-wall.
  • Sneaky & Mephisto Transform: The Talismans are reclaimed, and Sneaky lets love into his heart. Mephisto is vanquished at last.
  • Ngame's Tribute to Michael: Ngame performs a duet with Michael Jackson.
  • Michael's spirit is brought to the stage: Michael’s energy and spirit are shared with the cast and audience through an illusion that occurs during the Man In The Mirror.
  • Electric Love Parade: In a group acrobatic and choreographic tableau, the whole cast reunites on the stage, including the Heroes who return in the “Leave Me Alone” rocket.
  • Walk Out: A final message from Michael.

Setlist[edit]

  1. "Privacy" (Paparazzi)
  2. "The Vortex" (Opening)
  3. "Beat It" (Rotating Bungee and Russian Swing)
  4. "Leave Me Alone" / Tabloid Junkie" / "2 Bad" (Mephisto and the Tabloid Junkies)
  5. "Stranger in Moscow" (Spanish Web)
  6. "Bad" (Slackline)
  7. "Smooth Criminal" (Acrobatic Tumbling)
  8. "I'll Be There" (Transition)
  9. "Human Nature" / "Never Can Say Goodbye" (Dance Contortion)
  10. "2000 Watts" / "Jam" (Martial Arts)
  11. "They Don't Care About Us" (Group Dance)
  12. "Planet Earth" / "Earth Song" (Shadow Play)
  13. "Smile" (Transition)
  14. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" (Hat Juggling)
  15. "The Way You Make Me Feel" (Group Dance)
  16. "Dangerous" / "Dirty Diana" (Pole Dancing)
  17. "This Place Hotel" / "Workin' Day and Night" (Manipulation)
  18. "Billie Jean" (LED Dance)
  19. "Scream" (Transition)
  20. "Thriller" (Trampoline)
  21. "Speechless"
  22. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (Aerial Lyra)
  23. "Man in the Mirror" (Illusion)
  24. "Can You Feel It" (Group Dance)
  25. "Black or White" (Charivari)
  26. "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (Finale)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Webster, Andy (April 2, 2012). "Singing Pageant of Pop, With a Circus Atmosphere". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Leach, Robin (May 24, 2013). "‘Michael Jackson One’ is Cirque du Soleil’s best — and includes snow at Mandalay Bay". The Las Vegas Sun. 
  3. ^ Yancey, Kitty (February 21, 2013). "Cirque tells more about new Michael Jackson Vegas show". Michael Jackson One (USA Today). Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  4. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE | World Premier Tonight". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE Technical Fact Sheet". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE Technical Fact Sheet". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  7. ^ http://livedesignonline.com/cirque-du-soleil039s-michael-jackson-one/michael-jackson-one-projection-and-lighting-gear. 
  8. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE Technical Fact Sheet". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE | Costumes". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE | Tableaux". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 23 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Michael Jackson ONE". Cirque du Soleil. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 

External links[edit]