Each decade seems to have its own “super stars”, whether in sports, music, film, TV etc. Every once in a while, however, there is a person who reaches a legendary “icon” status. A person or group whose fame and talent cross over the generation gap. You mention their name and EVERYONE knows of them. Elvis, the Beatles, Babe Ruth…you hear their name and you immediately envision something unique to that person. One such iconic figure is Michael Jackson.
For me, the name Michael Jackson (or “MJ” as he is affectionately known) evokes a vision of not just his unique physical appearance and voice but also his incredible dance moves and passionate, energetic performances. Las Vegas is full of shows utilizing impersonators, so when I was invited to review MJ Live at the Rio I was excited but in the back of my mind I thought….there is no way any one person can fully embody my vision of MJ. I could not have been more wrong!
While the MJ Live show has a few different performers that take on the role of Michael, tonight it was Jalles Franca. While I found the backup dancer’s choreography a little lacking, Jalles’ passion, energy and attention to detail more than made up for it. As I watch him perform it is easy to forget it is an impersonator on stage! Jalles, it seems, “channels” MJ — from his signature dance moves (moonwalk and going up on his toes for an extraordinary amount of time) to his impeccable vocals. While Jalles speaks in his own voice between songs, you can hear the reverence and respect he has for Michael. This is more than a job to Jalles; he is a true fan and as such wants to give a performance that Michael would be proud of. His makeup, hair and wardrobe, (right down to the tape on his fingers) complete his ethereal physical transformation. I transfixed in this alternate reality as “Michael” performs some of his most famous hits: Beat It, Dirty Diana, Thriller, Man in the Mirror, Smooth Criminal…I feel as though I am at a private, intimate concert with the King of Pop.
Jalles is quick to let me know he is not the “main” MJ for this show. The toll that the dancing and singing like Michael takes on a performer’s body and vocal chords would make it impossible for any one person to perform twice a day, seven days a week. All I can say is if the other performers are as well studied and talented as Jalles I can’t wait to return to Vegas to see their performances as well.
This show should not be missed by anyone who knows of and loves the music of MJ. The production crew has done a phenomenal job of finding superb performers who have the look and the vocal ability to “become” MJ. The audience this afternoon was made up of a diverse group of people of all ages from all over the world including a MJ fan club. Everyone in the audience appeared to enjoy the show as much as I did. They hummed, sang, danced and moved to the music throughout. Go see this show– be transported and “Remember the Time” when MJ was alive and setting the music world afire with his creative genius!