Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour is Cirque du Soleil's 31st production, an arena tour launched in 2011 that ran into 2014.
The premise has an everyman mime journey into the heart of the Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson's most famous residence in life, and through a series of acrobatic and dance vignettes based around common themes and settings in his songs. These include dancing, gangsters and dangerous women, and supernatural creatures. While Jackson's original recordings are the basis of the soundtrack, there are live musicians and singers shoring them up.
Michael Jackson ONE is a sister production at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This show contains examples of:
- Animal Motifs: Costumed performers play elephants during "Ben" and descend from the rafters as bats during the horror sequence.
- Audience Participation: The performers head out into the audience and encourage the crowd to chant "Michael! Michael!" to lead into the Megamix.
- Audience Participation Failure: If audience reviews at Ticketmaster are any indication, sometimes they have a hard time getting the crowd to chant. After all, he's not going to show up.
- Bare Your Midriff: Two ladies bare theirs: the cello player and the pole dancer who performs to "Dangerous".
- Bowdlerise: At the show's first performance in China (Beijing, to be specific) in 2013, the audience was shocked to see the famous image of the Tiananmen Square "Tank Man" during the "They Don't Care About Us" video montage, even though the show was prescreened by the country's Ministry of Culture. As this image is literally Banned in China, subsequent performances in the country cut the offending clip out.
- Clueless Aesop: This review argues that "They Don't Care About Us" presents this; later in the review he notes that the show wouldn't have existed had Jackson's estate not seen its profit potential — yet it equates money with evil.... dancing robots appear with LED breastplates that first flash dollar signs amidst videos of urban and international violence, then display hearts as Mother Teresa appears onscreen to feed starving children. The number was originally designed for Jackson's This Is It shows (performances that were preempted by the artist's demise), so Cirque can't entirely be blamed for its unseemly exploitation of human suffering for commercial entertainment. Of course Jackson would have seen himself as raising awareness, and Cirque doubtless think the same thing about the pro-Gaia number ["Earth Song"] that unfolds as 30,000 people sip from souvenir plastic cups.
- Culture Equals Costume: For the "Black or White" portion of the Megamix, there are "Thai" dancers, a "Spanish" matador (!), etc.
- Creepy Cemetery: Guess where the horror-inspired segment ("Thriller", etc.) takes place?
- Dance Party Ending: Naturally.
- The Dead Can Dance: In the Scary Story sequence. Instead of "Thriller" zombies, the dancers are white-clad mummies.
- Ethereal White Dress: The "corpses" in the Scary Story sequence are all clad in white.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Will You Be There".
- Everyone Hates Mimes: A Real Life example — a common professional critical complaint is that The Mime is just a dancing mime, with no distinctive personality, and makes a weak viewpoint character.
- The Everyman: The Mime.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Bubbles the chimp (as played by a dancer) is a character!
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Many costumes in this show are festooned with sequins, crystals, etc. Michael's iconic sparkly white glove appears more than once (including a jumbo-sized version that a dancer manipulates from within).
- Faceless Goons: The robot-esque soldiers in "They Don't Care About Us", though they become good by the end of the number.
- The Flapper: Most of the women in the Gangsterland sequence.
- Funny Afro: The Mime and Fantatics don these to imitate the Jackson 5 in one comic interlude.
- Gangster Land: As depicted in movies of the 1930s, this is the setting of the "This Place Hotel"/"Smooth Criminal"/"Dangerous" sequence.
- Green Aesop: The "Earth Song" segment.
- Handicapped Badass: Even people who don't like the show single out Jean Sok, a one-legged dancer, for praise.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Type 1 example.
- Jukebox Musical: More accurately, Jukebox Circus.
- Living Statue: Several friendly ones flank the gates of Neverland; they come to life in the early "Childhood" sequence.
- Non-Ironic Clown: The Mime and the four Fanatics.
- Pantomime Animal: The elephants.
- Retool: Over the course of the overseas itinerary, several acrobatic acts were cut to trim operating expenses. The licensing fees Jackson's estate charged were higher than Cirque budgeted for, so the show was selling lots of tickets while turning little profit for the company.
- Rose-Tinted Narrative: Of Jackson's life and career. The show heavily stresses his lost childhood and his concerns for children and the environment, makes a big deal of the Mime and his friends getting the chance to enter the gates of Neverland Ranch, and unlike its spiritual predecessors, emphasizes the fact that the show's subject is dead. As far as stirring the audience's emotions goes, by the end the performers are urging them to chant his name, as if this were an actual Jackson concert (see Audience Participation).
- Sharp-Dressed Man: The gangsters.
- Spiritual Successor: To The Beatles LOVE and Viva Elvis.
- Swans A-Swimming: The duo straps performers for "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" are costumed as stylized swans; the woman is in white, the man in black.
- The Vamp: The pole dancer who performs to "Dangerous", embodying the subject of the song.
- White Male Lead: The Mime; while it's never been unusual for a Cirque show to have a white male performer playing the viewpoint character, the trope sticks out more in a show paying tribute to a black performer.
- World Tree: Originally the set was dominated by a "Giving Tree" similar to one Jackson loved to sit in at the Neverland Ranch; most of the huge setpiece was discarded early in the run, though the tall trunk remains.