Friday, October 26, 2012

Is it over now?

Review of Immortal by Cirque du Soleil

Did you ever go to a fantastic party where the guest of honor never shows up?  As much as I loved the Cirque du Soleil show last night, this is the feeling that lingers... The anticlimax...

Now let me explain - because obviously I owe you an explanation after starting out on a negative note like that -  and I think the best way of doing so is by taking you back to last night to let you experience what I experienced.

I arrived at the arena about 45 minutes before the start of the show and as the arena slowly filled up below me (I was up high on the upper level), I spent my time keeping my impatience at bay by looking (dreamily, no doubt) at the oak tree displayed on the curtain, which clearly was a rendering of and a tribute to Michael's giving tree and the sheer musical genius that sprang from him when he sat up high on his platform. Consequently, I missed the two MJ impersonators and had it not been for my husband, I do not think I would have noticed them at all. It was not that they made a great show of themselves either, they just sat quietly on their seats all dressed up to the nines in a Billie Jean and Smooth Criminal outfit, and only when someone tapped them on their shoulder did they get up to pose for pictures. The one in the Billie Jean outfit, complete with Fedora and a glittery glove - and with his long, curly hair in a sloppy pony tail - was really convincing, but it was the other one that got most of my attention. And mostly because it was a man at least my age - ie. somewhere in his forties. Somehow I had not expected that.
Well, in fact I had not expected any impersonators at all, but I guess my fellow Danes can still surprise me. It seems that when Michael is the source of inspiration anything can happen.

The use of cell phones and cameras was strictly prohibited,
but I did manage to take one picture right after we arrived.

When the show finally started - it was slightly delayed for some reason - the intro left me a little worried about the rest of the show, because I had expected more somehow. And especially more volume... And boy, I got just that! When Michael's image suddenly filled the entire background and all the bright spotlights came to life to an explosion of sound, all I could do was go "Whoa! Wow!" and hold on to my seat... Oh, and gape, of course. In fact, I ended up doing that a lot.
I totally loved it. It was goosebumps all over from that point on and pretty much through the rest of the show.

It is hard to name any favorite parts, but I will try anyway.
I loved the Jackson 5 part right at the start of the show, because although it clearly was not the real deal and little Michael looked more than a litte chubby, it still gave an idea of what it must have looked like and the rest of the audience must have felt the same. They were cheering on the dancers as if they really were the young brothers.

I loved the detail with the Neverland gate. However, I was also a bit relieved to find that
it was a guilded copy and not the original wrought iron one with the gold ornaments.
Had it been the original one, I think it would have killed me.

The female pole dancer during "Dangerous" was a jaw dropping
experience. I have no idea how they defy gravity like that.

Another favorite moment was the "Is It Scary" intro to "Thriller." The female contortionist
looked more like a piece of soft rubber than a human being. Really, really impressive...

I also loved the reaction of the audience when "Thriller" started playing. Everybody applauded and cheered right away - and it was not the artists that made them do it - it was the sheer fact that it was "Thriller." It was one of those moments, where I really felt that we were all there for the love of Michael as much as we were there for the show.
The dance segments during "Thriller" made it hard for me to remain in my seat and most of all I just wanted to get up and dance along. So much so that I think I might have to let off some steam later by playing MJ Experience  - no doubt completely embarrassing my daughter as I do so.
"Mommy, seriously..."

Human Nature turned out to be the first emotinal moment for me. For some reason all those glittering stars on the night sky and the little boy sitting on the cresent moon just got to me.

"I Just can't Stop Loving You" turned out to be an unexpected high point for me and quite an emotional one too. Normally, I am not that much into aerolists, and the song is not among my favorites either, but this certainly changed everything... Wow... There they were, one dressed in black and one in white, just like Ying and Yang, man and woman, performing the most elegant, weightless and subtle act of love in the air I have ever seen - and probably will ever see. It just worked so well with the song that I forgot about the fact that I was surrounded by 15.000 other spectators. They took me to another time and place and God, I loved it there...
I am not sure I remembered to breathe at all during that performance.

"They Don't care About Us" used some of the imagery produced for "This Is It." It was an emotional link to 2009 and as my eyes accidentally drifted towards the drummer Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett, I could not help but remember what he had said in the interview I had read earlier that day in a Danish news paper. "We were on the stage in the Stables Center, waiting for Michael, ready to go back to rehearsing again after a great performance the night before, but...he never came."

And from that point on, things just kept getting increasingly emotional for me...
When at the end of "Will you Be There" a shadowy hologram of Michael appeared, the audience once again reacted as if this was the real deal and not a computer produced image and broke out into a loud cry of love that quickly died out when Michael's voice started reciting the last few lines:
"In Our Darkest Hour, In My Deepest Despair, Will You Still Care?, Will You Be There?..."
And then something happened... Do not ask me what it was but suddenly everybody rose to their feet and as I found myself speaking the words with him, I realized that the woman next to me did exactly the same. It felt like a collective prayer and I swear that I had a feeling that we were all answering Michael's questions with a "yes, we will be there." And then, when everything went silent for a few seconds, a "I love you Michael" rang out in the arena, shouted with a cracking male voice.
A really emotional and magic moment.

Something similarly magic happened, when at the end of the show, they filled the entire curtain with the footage of little Michael performing "I Will Be There." First, a soft chuckle reverberated through the audience when he sang "Look over your shoulders, honey" and then, when he was done, we all rose to our feet and gave him a standing ovation. Not Cirque de Soleil, but little Michael. That brought tears to my eyes. I hope he felt the love. I really, really do.

And then, after "Man In The Mirror" it was all over and it was time to go home.
It was then that I started to feel not dissatisfied, but strangely unfulfilled... Of course I knew that Michael would not be there and yet, he was the one I missed. I missed more of his magic, which we had felt in glimpses, but most of all I just missed him... Michael. The man.
It was like there was a void inside of me that could not be filled.
As we drove home, I wondered why I felt this way, if the little girl deep inside of me had somehow naively hoped for a miracle, that it would be the same without him. Or had I  perhaps hoped for the ultimate miracle; that he would have sat down next to me wearing one of his silly disguises...
"Shhhhh... Don't tell anyone, gurl..."

And then I recalled the little girl, who right after the intro, asked a question, which I am sure that half of the people in the arena heard: "Is it over now?" (And boy, would Michael have loved hearing her little voice ask so innocently.) Of course, she was wrong. The show had just got started, which I am sure she found out a few seconds later.
However, she was right too.
The real show is over. It stopped playing on June 25th, 2009.
I think I finally realized the full implications of that fact last night.


  1. Wow E ...You've taken me on a very emotional review of the show (I actually teared up here at work)... I SO want to see it again. Have to get myself to Las Vegas next year.

    1. Aaaawwwweee Helen...
      I want to see it again too!

  2. I had the same reaction as Helen, I got choked up just reading this.
    First because it was a wonderfully written review that truly has the feel of the show. E, many of your thoughts and feelings are the same that I had as I watched the show.
    The Neverland gate was a highlight for me, I spent much of the night sitting there just staring in awe -- at the talent of the performers but even more so at the inspiration that Michael provided to the performers. I kept thinking, Michael did this ... he is directing this ... he would love this!
    And yes, I too expected Michael to show up. Of course I knew that was not going to happen, but during the show, I sort of forgot he was gone, if that's possible. The show felt like an opening act of a concert ... I had to keep pushing out of my head that Michael was not going to come out and start singing.

    1. Trish...
      You too...
      I am sorry, I really did not intend to make you all feel sad when you read this, but... I had to be honest too.

      You are right, it did feel like an opening act.

  3. Thank-you E for such a heartfelt review of the Imortal tour...yea you got me in tears too. I guess you can say the show is a bittersweet one. I wish i could have afforded the tickets when it was in NY..but it was way out if budget for again your account made me feels as if k was sitting in thd audience with you! It is a sad thought is it not that we will never get to expierence the magic that was Michael...that was stolen from us on June 25,2009. At the hands of another....
    Thanks again E

    1. I am glad I could give you a small glimpse of the show, Nancy! And a small glimpse it is... There was sooooo much going on all over the place - and simultaneously - that I missed out on things all the time.
      Still, nothing can ever bring back the magic that we lost when Michael passed away.
      (But we have our memories - no one can take our memories from us.)