Guest writer, Iun Hockley, shares his MJ Live experience
People often ask where my Vegas-obsession stems from, to them I say: you’re never more than 10 metres from a bar; there’s a new friend waiting to be made in every elevator, at every slot machine and table; you never know what to expect and even if you think you do, you will still find yourself surprised. But another key element is the huge variety of world-class talent on show in the many showrooms and theatres of the resorts up and down The Strip, Downtown and even off the beaten path.
During my recent July 17 stay in the city, we had the good fortune of scoring front-of-theatre seats for the MJ Live! show in The Stratosphere, where we were staying for the first few days. I will confess to some trepidation on my part – in the UK we generally hold celebrity impersonators to be only a few steps above “Living Statues” and mime artists on the performance hierarchy. That being said, Mrs. Iun insisted that we have things to do, so things to do I arranged.
The first thing that struck me was the size of the theatre: intimate would be a good way to describe it, as you were no more than an arms’ length from the next table. Furthermore, the stage itself seemed tiny and would not have looked out of place in a small-ish community theatre. The diminutive aspect of the stage gave rise to my nerves that this was going to be a cheap, dog-and-pony show. So I ordered a cocktail, which was also cheap, to ease my sense of worry.
Such trepidation and disquiet quickly proved unfounded when the man himself arrived on stage. Glittering jacket, rhinestone-studded glove, sunglasses and not a hair out of place, Jalles Franca was every inch the King of Pop. Whipping out abridged versions of Bad, Beat it Smooth Criminal, Black or White, it took his voice a little while to warm to melodies, but once he hit his stride, it was completely obvious why this is considered one of the best tribute shows in Vegas.
The choreography was also fairly spot on, with the MJ Live Dancers clearly enjoying themselves as much as the audience. Costume changes were frequent and matched the tunes to perfection – there was even a demonstration of the signature 45 degree lean (for which the late Mr. Jackson himself created the technology) as well as more than enough moonwalking to satisfied die-hard MJ aficionados.
Jalles was constantly in and out of the audience, serenading one lucky lady with You Light Up My Life, encouraging the audience to dance and clap along: this humble blogger even got a high-five from the performer. And before you ask, no, I haven’t washed the hand since.
It was a spectacular hour’s worth of entertainment with only one minor flaw: Mr. Franca promised a meet-and-greet once he had “cleaned up” after the show. After 45 minutes waiting in line, Mrs. Iun and I were both hungry and my knees – of questionable worth at the best of times, were starting to give way. So we left without meeting the man himself. A shame, as it would have made the perfect end to an incredible evening. Nevertheless, the show itself was worth the price of admission and was a steal with the $50 Groupon.
[Photos: Iun Hockley and MJLive]