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August 1, 2014

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Photos: ‘Immortal’ is Jamie King and Cirque’s loving tribute to Michael Jackson

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Scott Harrison/Retna/HarrisonPhotos.com

Blanket Jackson, Paris Jackson, Prince Jackson and friends at the “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” red carpet at Mandalay Bay on Dec. 3, 2011.

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'Immortal' Red Carpet at Mandalay Bay

Blanket Jackson, Paris Jackson, Prince Jackson and friends at the Launch slideshow »

Immortal red carpet

Immortal red carpet

Immortal red carpet

Everything one would expect in a Cirque du Soleil spectacular is present and accounted for in “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” which opened at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night: sweeping artistry and astounding athleticism; top-notch production values and technology; French-Canadian humor and quirkiness; and a sensory overload in the best way possible.

“Immortal” excels in many areas, and the credit is largely due to the talented Jamie King, the show’s author, director and chief choreographer, who has worked with the music industry’s most successful artists (Madonna, Celine Dion, Britney Spears and Rihanna). “Immortal’s” dancing and choreography are high-energy and nearly nonstop; the visuals and staging eye-catching and enthralling. Zaldy Goco’s costumes, especially the LED suits worn by dancers in the second half of the 2-hour production, are really, really cool.

In the end, though, “Immortal” is about the music of Michael Jackson, and the show is a loving tribute. His voice is heartbreaking in “Have You Seen My Childhood?” and “Gone Too Soon.” His and the Jackson 5’s greatest hits -- “Ben,” “I’ll Be There,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” “Remember the Time,” “You Are Not Alone” and “Black or White” -- are represented. “Will You Be There?” beats strong with the pulsating bright red hearts held by performers. The angry “They Don’t Care About Us” unexpectedly cut through this journalist’s guarded exterior. The audience is reminded, Neverland controversies aside, that Jackson was a groundbreaking artist who forever changed pop music, and his legacy flourishes in “Immortal.”

In its nearly monthlong run at Mandalay Bay, “Immortal” joins seven resident Cirque productions on the Strip: “Mystere” at Treasure Island, “Zumanity” at New York-New York, “O” at Bellagio, “Ka” at MGM Grand,” Criss Angel’s “Believe” at the Luxor, the Beatles’ “Love” at the Mirage and “Viva Elvis” at the Aria, the latter of which, in a Cirque first on the Strip, has been told to shutter by the end of next year.

Before “Immortal’s” premiere Saturday night, a red carpet was graced by, among others, Jackson brothers Jackie, Marlon and Tito; Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and his family; Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan; James Gandolfini; Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre; Berry Gordy Jr. and John Landis; Criss Angel and his fiance Sandra Gonzalez; Justin Long; Orlando Jones; Mike McCready of Pearl Jam; Allison Janney; and Holly Madison. But it was Jackson’s three children, Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket, who generated the most buzz in the spotlight. Thanks to Scott Harrison for his arrivals photo gallery and to Richard Corey for his videos posted on YouTube.

Mr. Vegas DeLuxe Robin Leach broke the news of the two Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson shows on Oct. 20, 2010. Meantime, the first-ever Michael Jackson Estate-authorized Michael Jackson Fan Fest is currently on display at Mandalay Bay and continues through Dec. 14. A report and fabulous photo gallery by Tom Donoghue was posted Monday.

Cirque founder and billionaire Guy Laliberte arrives from Tokyo today to see “Immortal” for the first time since he made changes to the touring show, signing off on it in Vancouver, B.C., three weeks ago. “Immortal” ends its Mandalay Bay run Dec. 27, with the theatrical version set to take over Mandalay Bay Theater in 2013.

Don Chareunsy is editor of VegasDeLuxe.com and arts and entertainment editor of LasVegasSun.com.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

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