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The King of Pop is coming to Raleigh! Or, at least, the next best thing is on its way.

Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour” is unlike any other production in Cirque du Soleil’s repertoire, explained Cirque publicist Maxime Charbonneau in a recent phone interview. The show fuses a pop/rock concert with breathtaking visual spectacle, all in homage to one of this century’s most incredible performers – Michael Jackson. Read on to learn a bit more about the show, which runs at the RBC Center this Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 11, at 4 p.m.

Alyssa Schoeneman: What is the overall feeling of the “Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour” production?

Maxime Charbonneau: It is quite different from other Cirque shows – this show is about Michael Jackson’s music, his legacy…what he gave us as an artist. The show is driven by Michael’s voice. We had access to the original recordings of Michael’s voice through Sony Music Entertainment, so our sound designer isolated Michael’s voice and then added some cool elements. The sound in the show is so crisp and clear…It is quite special to hear Michael’s voice played in an arena like this.

AS: How long did the company plan and rehearse before the show went on tour?

MC: The show was in development in Canada for a year and a half. We’ve been touring for about six months now; we started the tour October 2nd in Montreal and have performed in roughly 30 cities throughout Canada and the U.S. since then. We’re scheduled to tour in North America until the end of August, and then we go to Europe for a few months… It is a three year world tour.

AS: What is the most challenging thing about being on tour?

MC: With this show, the most difficult thing is the size of the production – we bring about 35 trucks from city to city. It is a massive, massive production. It takes us 11 to 12 hours to set up the building, so the main challenge is making sure that everything is set up on time.

From the creation standpoint, it was a challenge to make sure that the show as a whole would respectfully pay tribute to Michael Jackson as an artist. There was [and still is] a lot of pressure on the performers to make that vision come to life in every show.

AS: What kind of acts can we expect to see in the show?

MC: I would say that the show is 45 percent dancing, 55 percent acrobatics and about 5 percent only music. We have trapeze, a very sexy pole dancer, an aerial strap act and a swinging ring number, to name a few. There is quite a variety. It is a combination of those numbers with the dance numbers that make it special.

There are two worlds colliding together in this show– sometimes you will have more of a Cirque inspired moment, an aerial act for example, and then you’ll have a high-energy dance sequence with iconic choreography. There is a little bit for everybody in this show.

AS:  What kind of audience response have you gotten to the show so far?

MC: We have a very diverse crowd – the show touches people of all ages. It is amazing to see Michael’s influence transfer from generation to generation. Little kids come in dressed up as Michael Jackson even though they have never seen him perform. Michael Jackson’s music touches everybody – young and old, poor and rich, black and white. And that was what Michael Jackson tried to make people realize with his music – that we’re all equal.

AS: What is your personal favorite thing about the show?

MC: That is kind of like asking, “Who is your favorite kid?”  I would say in this show, there are some very touching moments. There is a moment early in the show when Michael Jackson at age 9 or10 is projected singing a cappella, accompanied by just our keyboard player. He is singing with such a mature voice.  It is a very simple moment but it is very touching. It makes you realize that we lost an amazing person, an amazing talent.

Visit the RBC Center website to purchase tickets.

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