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April 18, 2014

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MUSIC:

Vegas headliners will show Gloved One love in tribute show

Long Live The King

Las Vegas will take center stage in the world of entertainment this Saturday. The city's biggest performers are coming together inside Palms for the Las Vegas Celebrates The Music of Michael Jackson Concert. Emily Gimmel heads to rehearsals for the monumental event.

Click to enlarge photo

Erich Bergen.

In Today's Sun

If You Go

  • What: “Las Vegas Celebrates the Music of Michael Jackson”
  • When: 3 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: The Pearl at the Palms
  • Tickets: $29 to $129; (800) 745-3000, ticketmaster.com
  • More info: vegaslovesmj.com

“Jersey Boys” co-star Erich Bergen wanted to stage a tribute to his childhood hero Michael Jackson after the superstar died suddenly on June 25.

He thought maybe a little production in the 100-seat showroom at the Liberace Museum would do the trick.

“I put out the word on Twitter and in a few days it became a lot bigger than just a small show,” says Bergen, who plays the role of Bob Gaudio in “Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo.

The tribute quickly grew into a major event to be held at The Pearl at the Palms on Saturday, which would have been Jackson’s 51st birthday.

Dozens of Vegas entertainers will perform for the show, including cast members of “Jersey Boys,” “Lion King,” “Peepshow,” “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular,” “Zumanity” and “Ultimate Manilow: The Hits.” The lineup also includes Terry Fator, the “A Peter van Agtmael merica’s Got Talent” winner who became a Strip headliner, and Jackson-inspired dance act Signature of “Britain’s Got Talent” fame.

The Las Vegas Mass Choir, which recently performed for President Barack Obama, also will perform. Music will be provided by a 14-piece band.

“This is not just a karaoke to Michael Jackson songs,” Bergen says. “We will perform the hits of the Jackson songbook. You will hear Michael’s songs in new ways with new arrangements. It will be a clean, polished show. Some of the acts will perform by themselves, some will come together with others.”

Bergen began thinking about a Jackson tribute almost immediately.

“He was my biggest inspiration as a performer,” he says. “When he died I wasn’t expecting it. It was one of those bizarre days. His death was on everyone’s mind that day, especially people like myself. You always have this attitude of, ‘What can we do. Let’s do something.’

“I was so in shock I almost couldn’t be sad. It wasn’t even real. My mind immediately went to ‘Well, what do we do?’ ”

When he contacted George Maloof about using The Pearl for the show, Maloof agreed without hesitation.

“It has been quite an idea,” Bergen says. “There have been mostly good moments, not that many bad moments. We have a wonderful community of artists here. It’s a very small community in its connective tissue, but a lot of people involved.

“I think Michael affected so many people in his performing aspect. He touched so many generations of performers and his death reminded us all of how much we loved him.”

The proceeds will go to the Clark County Public Education Foundation and will be earmarked for music education.

“It may help find the next Michael Jackson,” Bergen says.

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