Cirque du Soleil Plans Michael Jackson Show

Show will tour arenas in 2011, add permanent Las Vegas version in 2012

After building shows around the Beatles and Elvis Presley, Cirque du Soleil’s next big star-driven show will focus on the late Michael Jackson.

The Quebec-based circus troupe has made a deal with the Jackson estate for the creation, development and production of Michael Jackson projects based on the King of Pop’s music and songs.

An arena-touring show is expected to debut in late fall 2011. That show, which Cirque says will allow fans to "experience the excitement of a Michael Jackson concert," is expected to have an extended Las Vegas run in conjunction with longtime Cirque partner MGM Mirage.

A permanent Las Vegas show, also in partnership with MGM Mirage, is expected to open in late 2012. Details of location and plans for that permanent venue will be announced by MGM Mirage at a later date.

Special lifestyle projects, including a nightclub to open with the Las Vegas show, also will be developed.

“This will not just be a tribute to Michael’s musical genius, but a live entertainment experience that uses the most advanced technology to push every creative boundary as Michael always did," said John Branca, co-executor of Jackson’s estate, in a statement. "Having attended Cirque du Soleil performances with Michael, I know he was a huge fan. We are excited to be partners with Cirque du Soleil to give Michael’s fans a truly unique way to hear, see and feel Michael’s music.”

Jackson’s estate and Cirque du Soleil each will own half of each project arising from the partnership, and will split development and production costs. The estate also will receive royalty payments on various aspects of its intellectual property used in the Jackson projects.

Cirque founder Guy Laliberté said in a statement, “Michael Jackson is the King of Pop and an all-time phenomenal artist, both timeless and contemporary. As a creative challenge, this project is the ultimate. Through the use of cutting-edge technology, we will produce a Cirque du Soleil experience not only worthy of Michael but unlike any other we have created before.”