Opening Night At Michael Jackson ONE

On the red carpet: (top) Prince Michael and Catherine Jackson. (from left) Marlon, Jackie and Tito Jackson.
Photos by Ellen Sterling

Michael Jackson’s presence in Las Vegas goes back to 1974 when the Jackson Five performed at the old MGM Grand (now Ballys). He never played a solo ticketed show here although he did move to our city and worked with some of our citizens. But his absence as a solo act is somewhat made up for by the new Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson ONE that opened June 29th at the Mandalay Bay.

The show played previews in the resort’s beautifully renovated theatre — now the Michael Jackson Theatre — and the opening featured a red carpet and an after-party outdoors at the Mandalay Bay beach. In 106-degree temperature.

The red carpet brought out press from the US, Europe and Canada. Among the celebrities were Jackson’s oldest child, Prince Michael, Jackson matriarch Catherine Jackson, brothers Marlon, Jackie and Tito. Also present were Berry Gordy from Motown Records, Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka, Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton, Alfre Woodard, Allison Janney and lots of others.

The show is, in a word, spectacular… Writer/director Jamie King — who worked closely with Jackson — and Director of Creation Welby Altidor, working closely with Jackson’s estate, have put together a show for which superlatives are too weak. It features Jackson’s music and, with no impersonators, Jackson’s voice. It does not glorify his life, just his music. The music is mostly from the 80s and 90s, although there’s a very haunting “I’ll Be There.”

On the red carpet (top) Neil Patrick Harris (left) and his partner David Burtka. (bottom) Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton.
Photos by Ellen Sterling

Sets, costumes, acrobatics, etc. are all dazzling. There’s a negligible plot about four people who find themselves through Jackson’s music. But, as with any Cirque show, you’re not there for the plot. In this show and Love you’re there for the music. And that gets the royal treatment. Including the ones in each seat, there are 7,200 speakers in the theater. The sound is beautiful, although one girl under age 10 sitting near us kept her hands over her ears for much of the evening.

On the other hand, the young woman behind us (Yes! I do watch the audience when I’m to write about a show) mouthed the words to each song with tears streaming down her face. Another audience member shouted, “I love you, Michael!” several times.

I was not particularly an MJ fan, but I’ve been listening since I saw the show and, way too belatedly, realizing how gifted a songwriter Jackson was.

By the way, the name “Michael Jackson ONE” and the theme that pervades the entire evening come from Jackson himself: “We’re putting love back into the world. To remind the world that love is important. To love each other. We are one.”

Michael Jackson ONE is a lovely show and well worth seeing. It plays twice each night, Saturday through Wednesday. For times and tickets, please visit the Michael Jackson ONE website.