LAS VEGAS — Once was not enough.
Less than 20 months after the debut of the first Cirque du Soleil show paying tribute Michael Jackson comes the second: "Michael Jackson ONE"
Cirque president Daniel Lamarre said he'd planned two Jackson-inspired shows "from the first day we got the rights from the (Jackson) estate," with the first production, "Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL WORLD TOUR," delivering a stadium-sized concert-type presentation and "ONE," a more intimate affair.
The new show is something closer to what Cirque du Soleil usually serves up. It's a multimedia extravaganza that often flies high, but never loses sight of its inspiration.
Saturday's world premiere attracted celebrities including musician Justin Bieber, as well as actors Neil Patrick Harris, Allison Janney and Alfre Woodard.
Also in attendance were Michael Jackson's brothers Marlon, Tito and Jackie, the latter noting during arrivals that most of the Jackson family would be inside the theater for the premiere except for Michael's daughter, Paris. The teen was taken by ambulance from her family's home June 5 and hospitalized.
"She's going to be OK," Jackie Jackson said. "She's getting better."
The brothers said even less when asked about the progress of the lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live. The family claims the company hired Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Michael Jackson's 2009 death.
"We can't elaborate on that, because it's still ongoing," replied Marlon Jackson.
Following a dramatic week of courtroom testimony surrounding Michael Jackson's final days, the brothers seemed relieved to be revisiting Michael's life and work.
"ONE" ''is all about the music," said Marlon Jackson. "This is part of giving back and sharing his legacy."
"ONE" also gives Cirque another crack at producing the ultimate Michael Jackson tribute show.
Some heavyweight media outlets gave "IMMORTAL" lukewarm reviews (The Hollywood Reporter, and the Los Angeles Times among them). And even Cirque president Lamarre said the production was being "tweaked" throughout its North American run.
"ONE" director Jamie King commented, "I think the questions with ('IMMORTAL') was, 'Was there enough Cirque? Was there enough Michael?' There's where the confusion (was)."
"'ONE' is very different," explained Lamarre. "It's a total immersion. So, people are going to dive into the universe of Michael Jackson."
Despite mixed reviews and initial production problems, "IMMORTAL" was a box-office smash. According to Forbes, it was the highest-grossing tour in the United States in 2011 and the second-highest in 2012. By the time it traveled overseas, Lamarre said, "IMMORTAL" was greatly improved.
"I cannot wait to bring back 'IMMORTAL' (to North America) for people to realize how good a show it is now," he added.
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