Michael Jackson’s and AEG Live’s PR have sent over the following press release about the preparations for the King of Pop’s comeback shows at London’s 02 this summer. Peep the exclusive new pic of MJ in rehearsal above and the press release below:
KING OF POP
Kenny Ortega Announced As Show Director
(May 12th, 2009) – The streets of Hollywood are buzzing; Michael Jackson mania is in full swing 5,500 miles away from The O2 arena – the home of his historic 50 concerts this summer.
Kenny Ortega, the renowned Director, Producer, Choreographer and creative talent is hard at work collaborating with Michael Jackson in the overall design and direction for the upcoming ‘This Is It’ concert shows. Ortega previously worked on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous and HIStory tours, some of the most spectacular shows ever staged. Last week, thousands of dancers flew in from every corner of the globe including Japan, Australia, South America and Europe to audition for Jackson and Ortega – all of them were chasing their dream of winning a spot to perform on stage with their idol Michael Jackson.
Even after the selection process narrowed the competition from thousands of submissions to over five hundred top international dancers, there was still no dance space large enough in Los Angeles or New York to house the auditions. The producers ended up booking LA’s Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, part of the site where the Grammy Awards are held each year, to handle the unprecedented numbers of performers who flocked to these auditions.
Ortega, having once been in partnership with Gene Kelly, is most recently known for his work as the Director and Choreographer of Disney’s, High School Musical 1, 2 & 3. Ortega also Produced and Directed the Barbra Streisand’s Millennium concert tour and is a two time Emmy award winner for his work as Director and Choreographer of the 2002 Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In receiving the phone call from Michael to lead the team, Ortega said, “My answer without a beat was nothing could keep me away. Collaborating with Michael on the Dangerous and HIStory tours were two of the greatest creative experiences of my life, to be invited to partner with him again is a dream come true. Working with Michael is always a true and full partnership, he is a creative mastermind, he assembles top professionals to lead his team and then inspires each and every one of us to climb to new places, break out of the box and conquer new challenges. He is the most significant artist and entertainer of our generation.”
“This Is It” is a spectacular concert experience incorporating iconic Jackson songs and choreography mixed with original new works. Ortega says, “Our show goals are to create more than a concert but a complete theatrical musical experience with a dynamic balance that features Jackson in both spectacular production and intimate settings. The stage set, choreography, costumes, lighting, effects and overall production will be of the highest standard and pushing the state of the art.” Michael is dedicated to every detail and aspect of the show working closely with his creative and talented production team. He is “tremendously excited” about sharing his stage show with hundreds of thousands of fans this summer in London.
Ortega goes on to say, “It has been over a decade since Michael and I worked on the HIStory tour together. We had been in discussion in the last couple of years about finding a new project to work on. When I got the call to join him for these concerts I was in-between gigs, catching my breath. I had just finished a World Press tour for High School Musical and was about to start a new film. In accepting the invitation I had to move a few mountains to clear my schedule, but I’m thrilled to say I’m fully on board.”
Casting is in final stages for dancers and the band. The dedication, passion and determination of these performers, who are all personally inspired by Michael Jackson brings an unprecedented intensity to the stage. Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, has influenced a generation of performers through his music, dance and stage shows impacting an art form.
This week with rehearsals in full swing the impossible has become possible as details to this complex and dramatic show are being put together. And when moments get intense and exciting in rehearsals an age-old British tradition has been adopted – a tea break!
Ortega adds, “I go to work each day with a huge sense of joy just knowing what is in-store. Michael, the team and I will hash out a creative idea, we’re ready to implement it and Michael will say let’s sleep on it. The next day he is back in studio raising the bar to the next level and pushing us further for greater dynamic results.”
Randy Phillips, President & CEO of AEG Live, commented, “The unprecedented demand for these shows turned a normal public on sale into a cultural phenomenon and pushed the boundaries by which we measure success. Michael and Kenny are creating an escapist adventure that will take the audience on an entertainment experience only imagined in dreams or big budget motion pictures. This is the perfect pairing on unique creative talents with the greatest repertoire in contemporary music.”
Ortega concludes, “I am looking forward to the creative days ahead as we build a Michael Jackson experience like no other, and to ultimately arriving at The O2 – a magnificent venue and a worldly place. I am thrilled to be a part of the team that once again is bringing Michael Jackson, the greatest entertainer of our generation, back to the stage and into the light and love of his devoted fans.”
By the end of the 50 concerts, 1 million fans will have witnessed one of the greatest musical events in history. This will be the last chance to see the King of Pop in London in what will be a historic stage show, and once in a lifetime concert experience – this really is it!
Note To Editors – One of the world’s most popular entertainers, Michael Jackson has sold over 750 million units worldwide and is one of the very few artists to be inducted twice into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognised Michael Jackson as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time and Thriller as The Biggest Selling Album of All Time. Jackson won 13 Grammy Awards and received the American Music Award’s Artist of the Century Award.
Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” 50 concerts sold out in a matter of hours on March 13th smashing box office records.
I seriously can not wait for the first show to kick off. More over, I can’t wait until August when the show I’ll be attending takes place (where I’ll sitting in the first, center block – A2!). As a fan of MJ since childhood, and having never seen him perform before (although I was in the house at the World Music Awards 2006, but we won’t count that!), to say I’m hyped to see the show is an understatement.