Michael Jackson HIStory at Artscape - a ThrillerAndrea Fedder
Andrea Fedder: He isn’t a mere impersonator. Kenny Wizz is an astounding, pitch perfect tribute.
Did you know? The very first film Michael Jackson appeared in was a musical called The Wiz. How beautifully ironic that years down the line a certain Kenny Wizz would be responsible for carrying the legacy of the legend that is the King of Pop.
Everybody has their favourite MJ tune, but beyond that I couldn’t ever claim to be a die-hard fan. Walking into the Artscape Opera House auditorium however, I was overwhelmed by the sense of massive anticipation.
In a blackened room, white words pierced through the screen – the definition of History. First smoke, then a flood of light and there he stood: surreal, posed, perfect. From the opening song, ‘Blame It on the Boogie’, people were shimmying in their seats.
Six backup dancers with gravity-defying moves, and an incredibly talented band accompanied Michael, or rather Kenny, one hit after the next. In a literal trip down memory lane, costumes morphed from disco to grunge, every song featuring the evolution of Michael Jackson’s distinct styles and his unique moves.
A particularly sassy red-dressed raven strutted some serious stuff around the stage as a bluesy intro rendition to ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ before those iconic hip swinging moves evoked wild nostalgia in the crowd.
Perhaps more than any other track, ‘Earth Song’, performed against haunting footage of destruction and ruin playing in the background, showcased Kenny Wizz’s phenomenal Michael Jackson-esque vocal ranges. Wizz isn’t a mere impersonator. To someone who has never had the chance of witnessing the real thing, Kenny Wizz is an astounding, pitch perfect tribute.
‘Man in the Mirror’ was performed in a pool of symbolically reflective blue light, before picking it up, to accompanying audience ‘Na naa, nah aaaah-ing’.
The plain, honest verdict from a formerly average Michael Jackson listener? Pure awesomeness.
In fact, more than once I was immersed in an actual Michael Jackson “fan-atic” scenario. His sweat-drenched handkerchief, for instance, flung into the audience after a powerful rendition of ‘I’ll Be There for You’, found a happy home in the grappling arms of a euphoric, virtually hysterical young woman. Kenny Wizz reawakens the exuberance of Jackson’s songs so effectively that, as far as the audience is concerned, that IS Michael Jackson up on stage. And it’s infectious, experiencing a crowd so delirious with adoration.
Virtually every song was a well-known, much loved hit single conveyed in all their former splendour, each better than the last. Absolute crowd pleasers such as ‘Black or White’ even resulted in a general on your feet – bust a move – can’t ignore the rhythm kind of dancing, much like being in a club, but better.
It becomes clear, when experiencing shows like this, why some musicians fall into the categories of artist, performer and entertainer. Whichever one of those you’d attribute to Michael Jackson, the same can be said for Kenny Wizz. Audiences worldwide have screamed for more from this man. And the team behind the show has pulled out all the stops. I don’t want to give too much away but, as far as the finale goes, ‘Thriller’ personifies the song in absolutely every way. Pure on-stage magic.
The Michael Jackson HIStory tribute show runs at the Artscape Opera House from 12 to 28 October 2012.
021 447 5057
Web site: http://www.whatsonincapetown.com
Artscape Theatre Complex, DF Malan Street Foreshore Cape Town Western Cape South Africa