Friday night’s “Thriller On H Street” party presented by the Joy of Motion Dance Center + Atlas Studio + H Street Main Street + Auto Zone (for use of the parking lot for the final performance) minus the lights.
First there was the 2-hour dance pre-performance rehearsal. Have to say, the room was getting pretty zombie ripe at the top of the 2nd hour.
Also caught a Halloween matinee of THIS IS IT, the behind-the-scenes documentary of what would’ve been Michael Jackson’s “come back” concert event in London. The theater wasn’t full; there was no scene at the box office. But people were taking pictures in front of the THIS IS IT poster after the film.
The new and improved “Thriller” effects for the concert that never was were impressive courtesy of Kenny Ortega and company. I tip my hat or take my glove off to Ortega not just for stitching together the bits and pieces of video footage to pull off what would’ve, could’ve or should’ve been, but for working as an equal partner with MJ on an over-the-top production; and you can’t do anything less with a Michael Jackson product especially after a 10 year hiatus. I’ve met Kenny Ortega. I was impressed by his energy. He loves his work. He loves dance. He loves music. It’s too bad how this turned out; but we’ll see how bad once the cash is counted.
I feel for the dancers who were so excited to be part of this experience – live that is. The dance auditions in THIS IS IT remind you of the opening scene of Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz.” A strange kind of irony as [SPOILER ALERT] Joe Gideon (Fosse’s alter ego) dies of heart failure before the show opens; and the real Fosse died of heart failure while on tour with his show here in Washington, DC. In THIS IS IT, teardrops are already falling from the dancers’ eyes, and Michael was still alive and kickin’ at the time these interviews were videotaped.
I was also happy the film acknowledged all the people Michael collaborated with including Michael Peters the original choreographer for “Thriller.” The dance steps were still part of the performance for Michael’s “This Is It” concert. Be sure to stay for the entire credit roll.
Apparently, whatever substances MJ was on, they didn’t affect his ability to create and fine tune his work. As far as the work was concerned, Michael was definitely in control. My impression of the MJ team is that you not only have to be on top of your craft, you also have to be a fan. A Michael Jackson tour isn’t about getting your sheet music, learning your cues and your steps and collecting the check at the end of the day. It’s a Michael Jackson thing, and you have to be on board with that 200%. At the top of THIS IS IT, the film says it all – “for the fans.”
Update: Nikki Finke does some numbers crunching for THIS IS IT on her Hollywood Deadline blog. I mean, come on! Did we really think Sony was going to pull the plug after two weeks? The film should have the same 50-day run as the concert would’ve, could’ve should’ve.