Michael Jackson’s spirit reached out and washed over the audience of the Richard E. Rauh Theater when the traveling show, “King Michael: A Glorious Tribute to the King of Pop,” graced the theater’s stage as part of the 2015-2016 Hillman Performing Arts Series.
“Award-winning performers will take you on a journey through time and music as a tribute to pop legend Michael Jackson,” explained Tom Cangiano, president of Shady Side Academy before the performance. “I hope that you enjoy the great talents of the performers as they pay homage to an icon.”
Jackson was loved by everyone worldwide. So it only stood to reason that the show would make a one-night only stop in Pittsburgh for his fans to share their love.
“We wanted to come someplace different and we were on tap to come to Pittsburgh because we know that Pittsburgh is a big Michael Jackson town,” said Mecca, one of the dancers in the dazzling spectacle. “All of the cities that we’ve went to have been great. The feedback we’ve been getting since has been great and we want to thank Pittsburgh for having us.”
The show, which has entertained millions of Jackson’s fans since 2010, stars Michael Firestone as the adult Jackson and the amazingly talented Jacquez Swanigan as the version of child Jackson. Hits like “Black and White,” “Human Nature,” “Thriller” and “I’ll Be There” gave King of Pop lovers a glimpse into the entertainer that they loved so much but was taken away from us much too soon.
Swanigan sang his first solo at age 4 in church. He was introduced to MJ’s music two years later when he performed “Loving You” at his school talent show. The now 11-year-old phenom has been portraying “Little Michael Jackson” in several stage shows. Swanigan has been featured on “America’s Got Talent” and sang the National Anthem for the Brooklyn Nets.
In addition to Swanigan and Firestone as Michael Jackson, the show featured poplocking dancers, a beat boxer, a gospel choir (which was not a part of the Pittsburgh show), and breakdancers
Break dancer Eugene “Loose Lee” Choe was ecstatic to be a part of a show that has touched the lives of so many people.
“I saw Michael when I was a kid before I even understood how to dance,”said Choe who hails from New York. “If you have no guidance it’s hard to figure out the puzzle but I knew he had a passion for dance and music. I tell people to do what they love, whatever they have a passion for they should pursue.”
The positive response that he and the rest of the cast received from the Pittsburgh crowd was not surprising to Choe.
“This is my third time performing in Pittsburgh, I love coming to Pittsburgh because its like its own little world it’s multi cultural. I always feel blessed when I come here.”
One of the bright spots of the 90-minute show was Swanigan’s jaw-dropping performance of “Who’s Loving You” and the Jackson 5’s rendition of “ABC.”
“We came to the show because Hillman put on a program at our local library and they were talking about this show,” said O’Hara Township’s Megan Amster, who attended the show with her children. “We didn’t know we could bring the kids but I’m glad we did. The Jackson 5 guy was awesome and the grown one was good too.”
Her 5-year-old son, Levi, loved the Jackson 5 portion of the show and so did his 7-year-old brother, Jacob Amster.
“I love the urban dancing and those ‘70s clothes are fabulous!” Jacob said.
“King Michael: A Glorious Tribute to the King of Pop,” was executive produced by Steve Love, who trained in several forms of dance. He founded Love Productions and he conceived, produced and directed numerous touring shows that have received worldwide acclaim throughout the years. The show is directed by Eric Martin, who began his career as a singer and musician and later an actor.
With his degree in theater he has performed in more than 20 musicals, plays and TV shows.
The show has entertained millions of Michael Jackson fans since 2010 as a dedication to the performer who suddenly passed away on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50. Throughout his career, Jackson garnered 13 Grammy Awards; 26 American Music Awards, 68 Billboard Music Awards; two Golden Globe Awards, 18 World Music Awards and 12 Soul Train Awards. He has earned more than 456 awards in his career. Jackson is one of the highest-earning deceased artists’ by the “Guinness Book of World Records.” His “Thriller” album remains the biggest selling album of all time with 110 million and a Recording Industry Association of America certification of 40 million units.
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