Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ground Breaking! Cirque du Soleil - Montreal, Canada

This was an experience I never thought I'd have. A once in a lifetime experience I could not turn down. I had received an invitation to represent my dear friend Bonnie Lamrock from MJ-Upbeat who had been invited by the Estate to view the Michael Jackson Immortal Tour in Montreal, Canada before it's premier. This was an unprecedented invitation, never before had MJ fans been invited to such an event.

The trip to Canada was top secret, and only a handful of fans from a few different Michael Jackson websites around the world were invited to attend. I was one of two ‘new comers’ to the group of long time Michael fans and had no idea who would be there. All I knew was: I was going to Cirque du Soleil in Montreal to see the ‘Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour’ final dress rehearsal. Representing Bonnie and MJ-Upbeat was an amazingly incredible honor for me. She is a wonderful, loving friend. Bonnie has been an inspiration to me for over two years. I met her shortly after Michael’s death. Her heart was shattered, she was completely devastated, yet there she was day in and day out for Michael and his fans, working hard to support and reach out to those who needed comfort and reassurance. Truly I don’t know how she did it, except that her generous loving heart, which is so very much like Michael’s, all that Michael taught her over the years, and God carried her through. I was one of those MJ fans Bonnie opened her fractured heart to. She reached out to me and connected with me and because of her kindness, understanding, encouragement and support I had a lifeline, a life preserver in a sea of grief. To those of us drowning in the pain and heartbreak from Michael’s death Bonnie and her beautiful website MJ Up-beat was our anchor and still is. Every day at work on my breaks and racing home at night I could not wait to get to the website and my emails from her. She opened her heart to me and I will never forget that. She has been an MJ fan for many, many years. She worked hard for Michael especially during the trial and runs her website with dignity and LOVE always displaying an open mind, kindness and sensitivity to Michael, his fans and others since 2003. She had been invited to Montreal for this fan event and could not attend, generously asking me to go in her place. I was so honored and thrilled to accept her invite and promised I would do my best to represent her and MJ-Upbeat and make her proud.

Here I am again asking “How can this be?” Someone one pinch me please... yes this is for real. Still there was that nagging feeling that someone might tap me on the shoulder and say, “Sorry, oops made a mistake.” Yet there I was getting on the plane... yes it was for real, really happening. Again I wondered how can this be?

It was in Feb. 2010 on the way to the Airport Courthouse for the 1st arraignment of Conrad Murray that I heard Michael’s voice so clearly. My music was blasting in my car. I like to play MJ’s music loud. I love the way his voice fills my mind and heart. Cranked up very loud so his vibrato... the vibrato like no other fills my senses and energizes my soul. His voice, his music the backdrop of my life. I prayed out loud “Lord please give me a sign. Lord if you truly want me to go to this court house hearing and support Justice for Michael Jackson then show me.” It was then with pristine clarity that I immediately heard Michael’s voice louder than any other sound, speaking in my mind over the music playing loudly in my car say to me, ”It’s an adventure. We’re going to go places we’ve never been before, do things we’ve never done before.” Yes, Michael clearly has shown me so much since that day and even before. I realize now it was so long ago that he began teaching me... about LOVE, humility, art, creativity, music, perfection, compassion. His essence, his love changing my life and millions of others lives forever.

So there I was still pinching myself, thinking, “Wow Michael, I could never have dreamed you’d lead me here to this time and place.” Now I sit at 38,000 feet in the air typing this story. Thanking the Lord for blessing my life with so many wonderful lessons in LOVE, from my inspiration, Michael Jackson. The biggest lesson of all being: LOVE... Don't judge!

I was thrilled and grateful to have my son drive me to the airport and visit with me until it was time to leave, he works in travel and assures me with information about currency rates and airport boarding procedures. God bless him. He knows I’m nervous as I haven’t flown since I was a young girl and well we won’t get into how long ago that was. He is such a wonderful man. My heart over flows as it never fails when I look at my son I see LOVE looking back. His support means the world to me and his patience and kindness is most evident when he listens attentively as I gush with Michael stories. This day I felt like a kid at Christmas bubbling over with excitement and anticipation of what the next two days will hold, hardly sleeping the night before, I simply could not begin to imagine what was in store.

It was time to board and take off for my flight to Montreal, Canada. I embraced my son, my heart over flowing for him... and also for what was to come for me. Waved goodbye and took those steps into the unknown.

I soon realize airports are unfriendly places. I will start conversations with complete strangers yet here that doesn't happen. No one speaks to one another. Everyone wrapped up in their own thoughts and business. Invisible lines of protection surrounding hundreds with very little interaction unless they are in a group or a family traveling together. So I turned on my nano ipod my beautiful eldest daughter had given me for Christmas and MJ’s voice told me “You Are Not Alone.”

Flying out of very warm Los Angeles with a short stop in Toronto, we flew through the night and into overcast, chilly, rainy Montreal arriving early in the morning. Bleary eyed from lack of sleep I trudged through the airport to find my transportation to the hotel where I knew a luxurious, warm room was waiting for me. Trying to save a few dollars I first tramped down to the aero bus where the friendly Canadian bus driver with the French accent informed me that he could only drop me a few blocks from the hotel not at the hotel. Envisioning the reality of my directionally challenged past where I have been lost endless times even on foot I weighed the extra cost as nothing compared to being delivered directly to the door of my hotel in a strange city, braced myself against the chilly rain and turned to make my way toward the taxi line, placed myself in que for the next taxi all the while hoping very much it would be a warm heated ride. Taxi after taxi lined up. Regular cars, nothing special... just typical road worn taxis. There I stood in my So. Cal. sandals, shivering but waiting patiently. Then the valet called me over and waved in my taxi. Up pulled a shiny, new, black Lincoln Towncar. I looked around wondering if this was ‘my’ ride. The valet smiled at me saying, “Here’s your taxi!” and opened the door for me. The driver jumped out and loaded my luggage then he spirited us away to the hotel in style and comfort. I settled into the warm, soft black leather seats and wondered to myself yet one more time... “How can this be?” All the while thanking the Lord for the never ending blessings He showers over my life. The Lord always knows the smallest desires of our hearts and LOVES to bless us with them like any loving father loves to bless his children and see their joy. For me my life is ‘nothing’ without the Lord and all things come from and through Him. Thank you Father. I smile contentedly as I enjoy the safe, warm, comfy ride through downtown Montreal.

Henry is my taxi driver. He speaks French and English just as many who live in this beautiful city. I soon find out he is originally from Paris, France and moved to Montreal 23 years ago and goes back to Paris frequently to visit his family. As my eyes are drawn to the landscape of the city I gasp, amazed at the beauty of a church with an incredible steeple, which to me looks more like a cathedral. Henry laughs and says,“In Montreal there is a church on every street, sometimes even two or three.” He is jovial and kind and I respond with “How wonderful. I hope everyone attends. This is a very good thing.” He laughs and shrugs “Many, many” and tells me that Montreal is predominately Catholic, which brings a sense of identification with my roots. I begin to snap pictures of many cross topped steeples as we pass them. Then realize there are far too many to capture so I just sit back and relax. As we drive I learn that even in Canada the gas is about the same price although sold by the liter, there is still mind numbing traffic which isn’t nearly as irritating when you are being driven by someone else, there is also graffiti just like in L.A. but just not as much, homeless still take shelter but here I see them at the foot of statues in front of churches, KFC is popular although they call it PFK for the French translation, Pouille Fried Kentucky. I feel a certain nostalgia when I see AandW drive ins still exist here and 80’s music is still very popular. Then the conversation returns to the beautiful churches in Montreal as Henry explains that across the street from my hotel is a church built, as Henry explains it, as “An exact Xerox copy only smaller” of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I just love architecture and learn quickly as I view Montreal it is a wonderful organic mix blending the old and the new. The shining bright mirrored skyscrapers pointing skyward next to neighboring brownstones along with centuries old stone church spires and copper crowned church domes nestled comfortably in between. I make a promise to myself to do some sight seeing.

We finally arrive at the hotel, the Marriott Chateau Champlain, smiling Henry pulls the Towncar up to the door, calls the valet, unloads my little piece of luggage and drops me at my destination for a surprisingly low flat fee. I wave goodbye, enter the doors, check in, and gaze around at the most beautiful lobby, appointed with big over stuffed, tapestry covered, wing backed furniture. Above me set in glimmering gold gilded ceilings are the most beautiful flower shaped crystal chandeliers which show off the dark warm wood walls and trim. Beautiful tapestry carpets cushion my feet as I walk to the elevator. Quickly I make my way to the private room assigned to me. Weariness has now settled over me as I open my hotel room door and am greeted with the most beautiful accommodations. The first thing I notice is the king size over stuffed bed and thick down-feather filled comforter, they are calling my sleep deprived body to rest; however instead I am drawn to the view outside my bay window over looking the city. I abandon the tight hold I have on my luggage with relief and turn my attention to the breath taking view. I stand and drink it in... entranced. Truly God knows what I love... and before me He lays out a gift for my eyes and heart. The most gorgeous time worn, green copper domed church, adorned with green copper statues of many saints, incredible statues, ancient stone craftsmanship, giant wooden doors set in place with incredible hand-forged metal hinges. I can barely take my eyes away but then on the opposite side of the street yet directly below me is another church made from ancient stone whose delicate stone carved spires clearly have weathered much time. Here this lovely church steeple resembles a castle and houses a clock and church bell which rings on the hour and half hour. Then I notice a beautiful park directly beneath me. I quickly forget how weary I feel. The rain has subsided, the clouds part allowing the sun to shine as if in perfect timing to my deep desire to see more of this beautiful architecture up close.

I have long ago learned that ‘time’ in the world of Michael Jackson fans can be irrelevant to the experience so I stop to fortify myself with Starbucks which I am grateful to know exists here in Montreal. Eagerly drink down my favorite energy concoction to warm myself and to prepare for what I know may prove to be a long night centered around much MJ love and Cirque excitement. I quickly make my way down to the street, the brisk air hurries me along to see all I can of the sights in a short window of time before meeting up in the lobby with those invited to this special event. Inside this amazing church I am not disappointed. My catholic upbringing, which I left behind as the result of divorce and a need to find a spirit filled healing, rises to the surface and a sense of awe surrounds my heart. The ornate adornments of the altar and ceiling murals, the beautifully sculpted statues and stations of the cross, the smell of burning, offering-prayer candles, detailed, stained glass windows, giant sea shell holy water fonts, the baptismal room.... all of it pulls me in. A place of worship to the God I love. So beautiful... with standing time... still giving peace, guidance and comfort to all who enter the doors. The workmanship and craftsmanship.... for me... art at it’s best. This is the replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome that Henry has told me about, Basilique Marie-Reine-Du-Monde Cathedrale. As my footsteps echo along it’s marble floors I feel as though I am simultaneously seeing history in Europe as well. An amazing feeling. Gazing at the art, the sculpture the very ornate gilding I think how much Michael would have loved this place and how fitting it is to be here to experience this myself, to be standing in this particular spot on the globe at this particular time. Another blissfully, divine appointment for me from my most loving Lord.

I am enthralled and cover every corner and vestibule inside the cathedral twice then move outside to take in the beauty of the entrance one more time before quickly moving on... because I still want to see St. George’s Church on the opposite corner before meeting the group I have traveled all this way to join. Walking on paths intertwined within large patches of freshly rained on grass, happy pigeons feed on seeds totally unaffected by my presence. Hurrying along these pathways I find the peace that fills this place a stark contrast to the bustling work day city. This peaceful sanctuary is home to amazing stone statues and a huge cannon commemorating a by gone victorious war and leader. There under green emerald tree canopies the sound of the cathedral bells greet me before I see the church itself and guide my way. Soon I am looking up lost in the beauty of this magnificent little church. The sound of the ringing church bells fills my ears, heart and soul triggering many fond childhood memories, creating a deep longing for the loving touch and smell of my mother and father. I slow down now to take in the beauty of the stone carvings and spires. This church is older, more delicate and under repair and I am unable to enter, still it’s beauty does not escape me and wonderful memories flood to mind of a church I attended with my parents in Virginia when I was child. 

Not wanting to be late, with a twinge of panic and anticipation about the initial meeting of the fans, I return to the hotel lobby and find in excited anticipation for the evening’s events I am still very early so I wander the hotel exploring to see what it holds and down a stair case I discover an incredible French dinner hall with beautiful, crystal chandeliers and incredible thick, red-velvet, stage curtains pulled back and held with thick, gold cording and tassels, reminiscent of old Paris. Then I retreat to the comfort of my room to freshen up. Soon though again I can’t contain myself and return to just sit and wait in the luxurious over stuffed lobby chairs.

Finally others arrive and soon all are present consisting of 15 fans total. There are many hugs and hellos. I make new friendships and recognize some from online; happy to meet them personally. This is simply huge. Unprecedented. Never before have MJ fans been included in such a meeting. A handful of fans from around the world have been invited by the Estate of Michael Jackson to view and critique one of the final rehearsals of the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour. I purchased my ticket for the show at Staples Center in Los Angeles almost a year ago and have been patiently waiting until Jan. 2012.  Yet here I am in Montreal and within hours will view it before anyone else in the world. Again I shake my head and say, “How can this be?”

France (pronounced Franz), our tour guide from Cirque arrives in the lobby. She is filled with a fun exuberant spirit and lots of Cirque du Soleil energy. She escorts us to view the MJIWT for the first time. I am very happy to learn many who knew and loved Michael are working in this show and some attend today’s rehearsal. I have known now for some weeks I would be attending this event and have done research online learning the names and faces of those involved. I am very pleased to have learned that Jaime King is the writer and director of this show. He has worked with Michael on many occasions and his heart is to present this show in Michael’s true spirit. Along with Jaimie are many others who worked with Michael Jackson. This group of uber talented individuals LOVE, honor and respect Michael Jackson. These are people who took part in his tours, danced with him, created with him, some even have worked with him since he was a child. I have learned many names and titles and am eager to see and meet who ever I can. These are special people whose admiration and respect of Michael Jackson has inspired their own careers and lives. They openly talk about how they have learned from the master himself. Michael’s talent spilling over into their lives inspiring them to become the best they can be. I am excited to hear and see how Michael’s love, creativity and talent lives on through them in this incredible show. This is the real deal, the ‘Real Tribute’ that I have been waiting to see take place for Michael. A tribute where Michael’s music and voice DOMINATE the entire arena and only homage to his excellence is shown to him and his legacy.

This is also the first time ever that Cirque has used a live band. Kevin Antunes has masterfully taken his access to Michael’s masters and remixed them and along with the live band make way to incorporate Cirque du Soleil's magic. The result is simply phenomenal! The incredible band consists of Band Director, Greg Phillingaines and also Michael’s drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffit and many more incredibly talented musicians including a new 19 year old guitarist, an amazing young lady discovered by Greg Phillingaines on You Tube. Some how I feel Michael would be very impressed with her. She is on fire!

We enter the arena as elite visitors to this rehearsal, specially invited to view and give our opinions, our take on how accurately Michael is represented. This respect is not lost on myself or the other fans. This is a ground breaking request by Cirque du Soleil and the Estate of Michael Jackson and we are honored to be here. In their desire to do justice to Michael Jackson and give the world of MJ fans what they feel Michael deserves, a true honorable tribute of excellence, the creators of MJIWT have invited 15 fans to view the show and give honest in put and ideas on how to achieve just that: Excellence for Michael Jackson. No cameras, phones or even note book paper and pens are allowed. It is all super secret. Before the preview of the rehearsal and while we wait for the show we are given an over view of the nights event, treated to dinner, and then later waiting in the arena we are introduced to the Talauega twins who danced with Michael on tour, Kevin Antunes the genius behind the remix of Michael’s voice and music for the Cirque MJIWT, performing dancers from the show who love to pay homage to Michael and then finally Greg Phillinganes, the musical director and band leader who performed and toured with Michael Jackson. Each promising us their commitment to honor and respect Michael in all they do. Telling us they knew him and will always love him and pay him the highest respect he deserves. I can feel and hear their heart and I see the love and heartfelt honesty in their eyes. They have won my trust, all our trust.

Like in all rehearsals there are Michael said, ”That's why we call it rehearsal.” However it is simply beyond amazing to be a fly on the wall for the whole process. This is a gigantic show with a huge 'Giving Tree' at center stage which anchors the show throughout and comes apart at different stages of the show. We are told this show is so big it will take 60 semi trucks to transport it from city to city. During a break and while some kinks were being resolved the fans went as a group for water and to stretch their legs. I did not want to miss a minute of my fly on the wall experience, so I stayed glued to my seat, just watching all these incredibly talented music elite gather below me talking and laughing. How often will I ever get to see Kevin Antunes, Greg Phillinganes, Sugar Foot and others ‘shoot the breeze’ clearly reminiscing and sharing stories while standing on the arena floor in front of me. The dancers waiting in full costume displayed incredible, super human moves and I wonder to myself "If that is what they do to stay limber and warmed up then how much more spectacular will they be in a live performance?" Some dancers and performers continue to stretch and warm up on the floor mat directly across from the reserved fan section where I sit until rehearsal starts. Directions are given by John Branca from the Estate during the delay and while the fans have left for break “Make sure not to start the show until the fans return” which displayed to me our presence and opinions were valued by him and those in charge and Michael’s LOVE of his fans is clearly being honored.

The Talauega twins were chatting and sharing moves with dancers from the show and clearly reuniting with old friends as they openly embraced others. The entire feel of all those involved beyond striving for absolute excellence is LOVE, respect, and appreciation for others in a supportive family environment, they are a family. I could feel Michael’s LOVE... L.O.V.E. spread around the arena even before the show begins.  Pats on the back, hugs and openly supporting one another in friendship, smiling, laughing, sharing dedication and love of their craft.  Some from the Estate who are not part of the actual show openly sing Michael’s songs, Dangerous and Bad, out loud. I smile big and laugh out loud as clearly only their love of Michael's music carries their tune, reminding me of myself. I want to sing along but shyly acquiesce saving myself the embarrassment.

This is SO clearly a very Michael atmosphere. I am pinching myself and wishing Michael were here for all of this. Before leaving for the arena it was shared that Michael was in talks with Cirque du Soleil about his own Cirque show and just loved the magic, visuals and imagery of the Cirque circus. He had attended many different Cirque shows for many years especially, The Beatles LOVE, which was one of his favorites.

Finally the fans have returned, the kinks are worked out and the show begins. Michael’s music and voice fill the arena with absolutely amazing clarity. The magic and wonder of all that is Michael Jackson coupled with the magic and wonderment of Cirque du Soleil erupts in an explosion of activity and lights, a perfect marriage of fantasy and genius right on the stage before us. I laugh and cry and travel to places where Michael’s heart lived and breathed. I am over whelmed. I cry several times and laugh out loud in other places. The magic grabs me from the very beginning and I can’t take my eyes off what I am seeing. A plethora of Michael’s songs, one after the other fill my senses, his vibrato full and strong, his voice pulled out and superseded above all other sound at times, effortlessly and masterfully flowing, singing, speaking. Michael’s spirit fills the arena, Michael’s heart is present in this giant room. Unmistakeable LOVE, Honor and Respect flow from the creators, including the Estate, the Cirque du Soleil production team, the dancers and performers on the floor, stage and in the air, the technicians and staff. You can see it and feel it in every move. There are performers simply everywhere at times, yet there are more quiet moments that are no less sensational. At times there is so much happening I don’t know where to look. An hour and a half later the show ends and we are all Speechless.

The Estate team comes immediately to us for our perceptions and opinions. They ask, we honestly speak and they listen. As fans we see things maybe others don’t, we are more sensitive to things others may not know about Michael. They are aware of this and this is why we have been asked for our opinions. It is simply Amazing and Phenomenal! They have captured Michael! We all seem to agree that only a few changes and minor adjustments are needed. We are told to sleep on it and digest what we have seen and we will gather for a brain storming session in the morning. I return to my room, very tired, but blissfully happy and content to know deep in my heart that where ever in this world it is about Michael Jackson’s true heart and soul...I am always at home.

The next day we meet again in the lobby to climb on board a shuttle to take a tour of Cirque du Soleil headquarters and campus. We are given a tour of the main building and learn that Michael himself walked these very same hallways and stairs casting those beautiful brown eyes on the very same rooms we are visiting. This is simply an amazing place dedicated to art, creativity, the environment and helping the needy. All sounding very familiar to the qualities of the man we all know and love. I can clearly see Michael's excitement and interest in Cirque, see his creativity and wonderment light up as he walked these halls. Especially when he visited the costume room. A story is shared that when Michael visited Cirque and took the same tour we are on he entered the costume room and stayed for four hours. He did not want to leave until he saw everything. He became so excited with each new costume he was like a kid in a candy store saying, "Oh please may I see that one. Oh look at this one and that one!" Over and over until he saw everything he could. How he must have loved the hat room. There are specific rooms for every thing. There is a Hat room, Shoe room, Costume room, Accessory Room, Mold Room. In all the rooms everything is made from scratch. In the Costume, Hat and Shoe Rooms costumes are made for each performer to their own personal specific measurements. In the Costume Room the material is actually hand painted for each costume. While we were present in the costume room we saw artists actually painting designs on to blank white material. We learned that this is the process for each and every costume. This way no one will have a duplicate costume anywhere in the world and Cirque owns the rights to each costume. While watching this process we noticed there was a Michael Jackson, Billie Jean with fedora, full size cut out present in the costume room which I just had to go out of my way to stand next to. The entire process in every room is absolutely fascinating!

A row of head molds line the walls as works of art near the mold room. Every performer who has ever worked for Cirque has had a mold made just like the one Michael had made for Thriller. I imagine he would have completely understood this process having experienced it first hand twice for Thriller and Ghosts. We are told today the painful process Michael went through no longer is practiced and all molds are made with measurements taken via computer. Again it is absolutely fascinating!

The Cirque headquarters was purposely built in the outskirts of Montreal in the poorer area for two reasons. First, to stay true to the essence of circus history where circus tents were always set up on the outskirts of town. Second, so they could help revitalize the poorer community on the outskirts of Montreal. Beyond the fabulous magic, creativity and wonderment of Cirque you can see Michael's attraction to this amazing organization. Much like Michael they reach out to those in need. The founder of Cirque du Soleil started the project “One Drop’ campaign to help the poor and starving in the world gain control over their lives by bringing water to drought stricken poverty filled regions of the world.

"We all drink from the same well. Water is our common bond, uniting us as human beings and as citizens of this planet. And yet, while this precious resource flows abundantly in some parts of the world, in others, water or lack thereof is a source of poverty and sickness. Every year, more than 3 million children die from water-related causes. Isn't that a sufficient reason to act?" by Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil.

                                      Cirque du Soleil Corporate Building, Montreal Canada
Cirque du Soleil was started originally in France in 1984 by two street performers, Guy Laliberté, and Daniel Gauthier. Cirque shows combine the magic of the circus with a story line without the use and abuse of animals.
We are shown a special building which is home to many of the performers and their families and also learn that the families go on tour with the performers and even baby sitting is provided. This is the most amazing and successful company who truly cares about it’s employees, the community and the environment. Very Michael!
 Our collection of MJ Fans from around the world stand in front of the "Shoe" and behind them is the housing quarters for performers and their families. Next to me stands Jeff the head of the MJ Online Team from the Estate.

The employees at Cirque are encouraged to create all types of art. Their artistic endeavors are hung on the hall walls and are intriguing and beautiful. Walking down the hall ways is like visiting an art gallery or museum and I could just envision Michael taking extra time to look closely and appreciate each picture, sculpture, painting and work of art displayed. We sat in the Cirque main conference room which had windows over looking the trapeze, ropes and trampoline practice area and enjoyed breakfast with those in charge of MJIWT, John Branca and Karen Langford from the Estate, Stéphane Mongeau; Cirque MJIWT Executive Producer and Chantel Trembley; Cirque Creative Director, as well as Jeff Jampol, Gayle and Ashley from the MJ Online Team. We took part in a brain storming session and shared our critiques of the show from the night before. The music and the band is simply beyond amazing and gets a 100% approval from all of us. They answered questions, listened and made notes about our thoughts and ideas. They were interested in what we had to share. The show was simply amazingly stunning; however they took to heart the points discussed. In fact they had already made adjustments and changes based on what was shared with them the night before. Unprecedented, this type of meeting has never taken place before. Amazingly exciting! Ground Breaking! The discussion was lively as are all Michael Jackson discussions in the MJ fan world. Some differ in opinions but what is perfectly clear is the passion and love for Michael Jackson along with the desire to keep his LOVE alive. Also very clear is the desire to pay great homage to Michael Jackson and the commitment to excellence that he himself gave to all he created. The desire to carry this same level of excellence forward is very evident with all those involved in this amazingly BRILLIANT show. I am very excited about the Las Vegas opening and Fan Fest when we will see the ever evolving final version and see some of our ideas shared with the world. It is a wonderful feeling to be listened to and heard. They heard us! They get it!

As I write this glancing out the window high above the earth on my trip home the sky glows orange as the sun sets somewhere over the United States. I feel closer to Michael up here.... closer to heaven. I just wish with all my heart that Michael were here to see this beautiful show become a reality. To share his own thoughts and ideas for I know he must have had many, many more amazingly spectacular ideas for his own Cirque show. Ideas only his genius could perceive. Unsurpassed and unequaled, it is unimaginable what he would have had in mind with all his cutting edge visuals and effects. We as fans only know what we have seen him already do and insist that genius be portrayed respectfully and beautifully which is exactly what the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour achieves. I just wish Michael was here to share his own ideas and give his final nod. Michael, I wish and pray with all my heart you are looking down from heaven to see your dream come to fruition.


Michael visits Cirque du Soleil in Montreal Canada 2003

9/20/11 Update from the Estate and Cirque: 
 "As the Estate and Cirque stressed during your visit, this is very much a work-in-progress and there continue to be changes made to all aspects of the show - not only the music. There are various reasons for these changes – some creative, some because of clearance issues and other reasons. For example, as a result of the rehearsals that have taken place since your visit, “Cry”, “Breaking News”, “Monster” (though a portion of 50 Cent’s rap may be used), and “Off The Wall” are now no longer in the show. “Man In The Mirror” has moved, and “Threatened” has been added, as has an additional use of “Bad”. Some of the routines you saw have also been changed including, for example, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”.  And more changes are expected."

Fans gather at the Hotel and then leave for the arena conference room and to view the show.

Fans gather in the conference room at the arena and are briefed by John Branca, Stéphane Mongeau, Karen Langford and the MJ Online Team.

Fans enter the arena and prepare to view the MJIWT for the first time.

Fans meet some of the Pros who have worked with Michael Jackson:

Fans meet Greg Phillingaines, musical director:

Keven Antunes and Greg Phillingaines:

To purchase tickets for the Las Vegas Premier and Fan Fest on Dec. 3rd or to see MJIWT in Las Vegas this is a great site to purchase tickets.

Michael Jackson Immortal Tour Las Vegas Fan Fest link:

Michael Jackson Immortal Tour Cirque du Soleil tickets across the U.S.A. Includes a video by Jaime King.


  1. It sounds awesome Betty! What a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to seeing the Immortal World Tour. :-)God Bless you. - Love, Bonnie

  2. Thank you Bonnie. I was proud to represent for you and MJ-Upbeat in Montreal. It was such a privilege and a time I will never forget. Michael's LOVE lives forever.
    LOVE to you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. This is stunning, Betty. Not only the fact that the fan base was consulted, but that they were listened to and appreciated. I am so very inspired. I want so much to go to the Fan Fest for the show. God willing, I will figure out a way to attend at least one of the shows. Thanks for taking us there.

  4. Betty,
    How wonderful that you were able to take part in this honor of contributing to the show as a respected fan of Michael. I am so happy for you and I know how much you appreciate this opportunity. Of course, we love that you share with us! My husband was born and raised in Monreal and we have a country home 1 1/2 hours north of Montreal, but I have to confess I am from the West and have not spent much time in the city at all. I will be going to the show on 11/1/11 in Edmonton (Nov 1) Looking so forward to it, even more now! Love to you,

  5. Oh wow, this is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing, Betty! ♥

  6. Hi Betty - I'm flying to LA Monday to be there showing support with sunflowers :) Let me know how to contact you. I'm at or you can confirm my Friend Request on facebook. I'd like to stay with some MJ friends locally if that's possible. I'm a quiet guest with my own transportation. I'll be job hunting and 'house' hunting as I prepare for my very soon relocation to LA. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP! Love Rita

  7. Rita I will email you. The sunflowers at the court house is still on for the first day of court, Sept. 27th.

  8. Your welcome everyone. I am very happy I could take you there on my MJ adventure to Montreal. If you can get tickets it is just astounding and remember to take tissues.

  9. Billie Jean - Verónica 12:29pm 9/22/2011
    Thanks Betty, You are Such a good writer.
    I enjoyed every one of your descriptions, from the beginning of your trip to the beautiful city of Montreal, the churches (the art)*, the hotel, what you thought and feelings of your heart. I enjoyed every line of your story. I love to know (and how you describe it) that our God and Mike were with you all the time!
    * I’m Catholic, then I know many of the most great art is joined to the Catholic church in the Renaissance. The art history is definitively ‘married’ with Catholic church.
    Cirque Du Soleil is the most wonderful spectacle in the world. I believe it seems a masterstroke by the estate, having planned this great show .... I lost my breath imagining Michael's voice filling the arena of the whole circus ...... makes my flesh is of I was chicken and fills my soul with joy at the same time... With that joy (which, as you say) only the music of Mike gives to my heart. On the other hand I imagine all the great spectacle WOW! full of dancers, musicians and world-class acrobats ...... As Michael would have dreamed ..... How lucky you are to have seen it ! .... God bless you!
    You saw the camerinos, the dresses the costumes, everything…You saw the same things as Michael did when he was there! How privileged you are to have lived the MAGIC!

    You know? Betty, I think the estate, and specially John Branca is a genius, he knows how much Michael loved his fans as he gave his life for his fans and I think is really commendable that they thought of a select group of fans to give their opinion about the show and to make sure it will be a success considering the smallest detail that we the fans who loved him so much and such a special way would like! Masterly!.... Just as Michael himself would have done. I know Mike is proud of this show, proud of John Branca and proud of his FANS.

    I imagine how you feel inside. I thank you sweet Betty for being part of the select group who represented Michael's fans!

    All I can say is YES! L.O.V.E. lives forever!
    Thanks for sharing. Love you, Verónica

  10. LOVE you more Veronica! Thank you for your kind words and am very happy you enjoyed the words the LORD gave me to write about this very special time.

  11. Betty, I have been so busy and hardly on FB that I had no idea you were such a lucky fan, again, LOL! What an amazing story! I haven't been to Montreal, but I have been to Vatican City and St. Peter's Basillica. The day we were there we got to go tour not through the middle as usual but on the sides where no one ever gets to go because they were setting up for the Pope. Sistine Chapel was breathtaking too! I am so thrilled for you Betty that GOD blessed you and I know Michael is smiling down from Heaven. LOVE you Sister! <3<3<3 xoxo