BWW Review: MICHAEL JACKSON HISTORY SHOW at Artscape Opera House Hits All The Right Notes
Pulling off an icon in the music industry is daunting for any performer. When that icon is raised to the ranks of royalty, it's hard to believe anyone would dare expose themselves to being compared with a King. Taking on the challenge superbly, Showtime Australia's latest offering, Michael Jackson HISTORY SHOW, brings the music and man of Michael Jackson to the Artscape Opera House.
Showtime Australia pays homage to the likes of ABBA, Queen, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and The Beatles across the globe. Having been a fan of the company for the past 10 years, it can be said that - whoever is at the helm - there is always an overriding sense of authenticity to their productions. This is no different with the Michael Jackson HISTORY SHOW, where the King of Pop is not only impersonated, but resurrected.
Dantanio, a homegrown talent from Kimberley, has been starring as the show's namesake since 2014. With his high energy levels; superhuman ability to do intricate dance moves while holding true to Jackson musical style; and general onstage appeal, it's hard to imagine he's started his South African tour with press days up at 5am! On stage he is vigorous and intoxicating; but also exceptionally warm and personable.
A singer since 9 years old, it's evident Dantanio has honed his talents and truly comes into his own as MJ. Everything about the performer stays true to the Moonwalker and is only enhanced by great makeup and costuming. When juxtaposed with live performances, not even a slight mic adjustment is out of place in his rendition. If not for the music, the amount of behind-the-scenes effort and rehearsal that went into a production like this is worth the ticket. The first half is jam-packed with popular hits such as Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man In The Mirror, and a Jackson 5 mash-up. Having already used so many well-known tracks, the second half moves a bit slower song-wise, but ups the ante when it comes to showcasing Dantanio's imitative talents.
Supporting Dantanio includes a band of talented local and international musicians including highly talented back-up singer and duet partner Giselle van Grinsven. On top of this, four remarkable dancers not only open the show, but hold your attention with them throughout. I sometimes got so warped up in their sleek choreography that I forgot to watch the King himself! It must be intimidating to have to hold your own when the main star leaves the stage for a costume change, but all of the aforementioned players in the Michael Jackson HISTORY SHOW do it extremely well.
A further standout highlight of the entire production is the technical aspects. Sometimes under-mentioned in reviews, there is no way one cannot notice the lighting and special effects that make this performance half of what it is. From strobe lights to smoke machines, a night at the Artscape is turned Grand West-ian (I would argue even Wembley Stadium-ish or Madison Square Garden-esque at times). The encore alone is like few others seen on the Opera House stage and left a wave of astonishment across the packed opening night audience.
As Dantanio says towards the end of the just-over 2 hour extravaganza, the show is only possible thanks to the King of Pop himself. Having thought I'd been relatively oblivious to Michael Jackson's repertoire and stage theatrics, I was out of my seat and "hee-heeing" more often than not! Whether the biggest fan or a closeted on-repeat listener of I Want You Back, The Michael Jackson HISTORY SHOW is simply not to be missed.
Photo credit: Showtime Australia
Michael Jackson HISTORY SHOW will be performed until 10 February at the Artscape Opera Hose from Thursdays to Saturdays at 8pm with a matinee performance on Sundays at 2pm. Tickets ranging from R190 to R390 can be booked online at online.computicket.com and www.artscape.co.za or by calling the Artscape Box Office on (021) 410 9838.