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Theatre / Michael Jackson ONE

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Michael Jackson ONE, Cirque du Soleil's 33rd production, is a permanent stage show that opened at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2013.

A sister production to the arena tour Michael Jackson The IMMORTAL World Tour (with the same writer/director, Jaime King, at its helm), the show has a similar Jukebox Musical format and many of the same songs but a different Excuse Plot: Four misfits discover and invoke the four fabled traits of Michael Jackson — agility, courage, playfulness, and love — to conquer the forces of evil. These qualities are embodied in four magical articles of clothing, as it happens.


As for the title, ONE refers to Jackson's superstar status, the promise that the bulk of the show would feature his #1 charting songs (though only 10 of the 33 songs used actually achieved that position in the U.S.), and his dream of a completely united human race.

This show contains examples of:

  • Animesque: The animated segment during "Scream" is drawn in this style.
  • Artistic License – History: There are onstage references to two notorious tabloid stories of Michael from The '80s, namely that he slept in a hyperbaric chamber and wanted to buy the skeleton of Joseph Merrick (aka the Elephant Man). These stories are portrayed as typical inventions of the gutter press, but in real life Michael and his crew created and planted them for publicity purposes. Michael always claimed the tabloids made up the stories, however, and the show takes him at his word.
  • Advertisement:
  • Badasses Wear Bandanas: The gang members who turn up for "Bad".
  • Badbutt: The gang members only dance and look cool.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Some of the female MJ Warriors, as well as Dirty Diana (a pole dancer).
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Michael Jackson was apparently so magical that his Clothes Make the Superman in the present. Enforced due to Jackson's estate serving as a co-producer of the show; Jackson loved portraying himself as having supernatural abilities/origins (as in his music videos, Moonwalker, Men in Black II, etc.).
  • Big Bad: Mephisto (aka the Paparazzi Monster), a Humongous Mecha that represents a Strawman News Media.
  • Black and White Morality: Those on Michael's side are good. Those opposed to him are pure evil.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The misfits gain Michael's four defining traits via four magical articles of clothing, specifically...
  • Concepts Are Cheap: Of the four traits Jackson supposedly embodies, agility and playfulness are obvious, but courage and especially love less so, thus falling into this trope. This was probably bound to happen in a show with no actual dialogue; a few spoken word sound bites of Jackson himself don't go very far in explaining what they're supposed to mean. But hey, courage and love are good things, right? And the bad guys are weak against them, right?
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The Tabloid Junkies wear trenchcoats, often paired with fedoras (otherwise, they wear headpieces with attached cameras) and dark sunglasses.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: At the end of the "Earth Song" shadow play, the performers create an image of Michael in this pose, which he used so often in performance himself. The performers also strike the pose as the show ends.
  • Dance Battler / She-Fu: Shy, once she dons the glasses. (Specifically, she is using the martial art known as Wushu.)
  • Dance Party Ending: Or as the press notes call it, an "Electric Love Parade".
  • Dancing Pants: The magic shoes can move (and moonwalk) without anyone wearing them. Ditto the Gem-Encrusted glove.
  • Dark Is Evil / Light Is Good: Guiding principle behind the characters' costume color schemes, according to designer Zaldy Goco.
  • The Dead Can Dance: In the "Thriller" sequence. They can also use trampolines.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Man in the Mirror".
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: The Muse, "a conduit for Michael's music", is a golden blonde and the Foil to the dark-haired villainess Dirty Diana with regards to desirability and moral code. She rocks out too much to be Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Wink's black getup is sparkly in the way that Jackson's Motown 25 "Billie Jean" jacket was sparkly, and the hat jugglers are similarly twinkly. By the end of the show — but particularly during "Man in the Mirror" and "Can You Feel It" — there's sparkly golden magic dust flying/being flung about everywhere, thankfully not literally (rather, on film).
  • Excuse Plot: The setup's just a framework for acrobatics and hit tunes.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Justified, as there's No Fourth Wall to start with. The photo-taking Tabloid Junkies harass the audience during the preshow, and zombies roam the theatre during "Thriller".
  • From Beyond the Fourth Wall: During the preshow, The Misfits first appear in the audience before sneaking on to the stage.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Shy.
  • Gold Makes Everything Shiny: The Muse's outfit is gold, and is complemented by her golden-blonde hair.
  • Great Balls of Fire: A stream of fireworks erupts from the neck of the Muse's guitar at one point. The whole show is drenched in Spectacle, of course; fireworks go off in the opening sequence and smoke effects will be used.
  • Green Aesop: The "Earth Song" sequence.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The gang members have black leather jackets.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Presenting Michael Jackson as a larger-than-life inspirational figure to the point that the protagonists want to follow in his footsteps and his Clothes Make the Superman requires this trope, as in Real Life he wasn't a great role model. His estate has a stake in the show and the key creative team worked with him while he was alive, so this was to be expected.
  • Humongous Mecha: Mephisto.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Type 1 example (Original Author's X).
  • Instant Costume Change: Donning one of the magic costume pieces triggers this, an effect reversed when the piece in question is lost.
  • Jukebox Musical: A jukebox circus, though (as in its sister show) the singing is provided by Michael's own recordings.
  • Meaningful Name: The four misfits are named Sneaky, Smarty Pants, Clumsy, and Shy.
  • Melancholy Moon: Ngame (aka Mother Moon), a singer sitting on a crescent moon, provides a backdrop to the "Stranger in Moscow" sequence, among other things.
  • Nerd: Clumsy, complete with chunky black Nerd Glasses and awful fashion sense.
  • No Fourth Wall: As is usual for Cirque; during "Stranger in Moscow" the audience even gets snowed upon!
  • One-Woman Wail: Ngame does this as a lead-in to "Stranger in Moscow".
  • Paparazzi: The Tabloid Junkies.
  • People in White: The MJ Warriors who drive back the Tabloid Junkies, because Light Is Good.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Shy, one of the two female misfits (Smarty Pants is the other, and wears light blue), wears pink.
  • The Power of Love: This is the one thing powerful enough to destroy Mephisto, though exactly how Michael Jackson and the characters embody and use it isn't clear.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Tabloid Junkies dress in red and/or black.
  • Rose-Tinted Narrative: MJ Warriors? Tabloid Junkies? Yep, this is clearly a romanticized view of Jackson.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Clumsy wears a striped shirt, plaid pants, solid-colored vest, and multi-colored sneakers.
  • Sharp Dressed People: The Smooth Criminals (dancers), who wear pinstriped suits.
  • Sinister Shades: Some of the Tabloid Junkies wear these.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Beatles LOVE, Viva Elvis, and Michael Jackson The IMMORTAL World Tour.
  • Starring Special Effects: Turns up in the late going. "Man in the Mirror" features the cast dancing with a Jackson hologram.
  • Strawman News Media: As in Jackson's songs, the mass media is portrayed as a cruel entity that preyed upon him for money by painting his behavior in a negative light — to the point that a representation of it is the Big Bad, and its Paparazzi minions turn out to be werewolves.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: The Tabloid Junkies relentlessly stalk people (even the audience in the preshow) to create tabloid front page fodder, but Michael is their prime target.
  • Totally Radical / Two Decades Behind: The cartoony outfits for the misfits and the "Bad" acrobats could have come from a Walt Disney World musical revue from The '80s. Well, The '80s were Michael Jackson's salad days...
  • The Vamp: Dirty Diana, one of Mephisto's minions.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Beggar Boy, an aerialist who performs to "Stranger in Moscow".
  • Weird Moon: See Melancholy Moon above.
  • White Gang-Bangers: In "Bad"; of course, they're all Badbutt characters anyway, so realism was never going to be in the cards.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The ensemble includes dancers with hair in neon tints of blue, green, pink, etc. Beggar Boy has bright orange hair that brings Ziggy Stardust to mind (as does his glittery blue eyeshadow).

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