Micah Isaacs, a Canadian Michael Jackson tribute artist, kindly agreed to let me interview him recently for an article in my blog. I've chosen today to share the article in the spirit of today's release of Michael Jackson's Xscape.
In December of 2013, Regina's Applause Dinner Theatre hosted a two week residency with Michael Jackson tribute artist, Toronto based Micah Isaacs. The event was a first of its kind at the venue, as well as a first for Micah. "It might surprise people," Micah said, "but I actually only do three to five shows a year. It was a great experience and I met some wonderful people." Among those wonderful people were the members of local dance crew, Continual Surrender, who were Micah's back-up dancers for the Applause shows. "The owner of Applause saw the girls perform at a local event," he explained how the dance crew got involved with the show. "She got in contact with them and asked if they would be interested." Choreography was worked out while Micah was in Toronto and the back-up dancers were in Regina. "I talked to the girls through Facebook; sent them my instrumental tracks and tour footage from MJ. The girls came up with the majority of it on their own in a very short amount of time. They are very talented," he praised.
Micah's tribute show is very true to Michael Jackson's live shows. He not only chooses the same songs that Michael played in his concerts (including a perhaps unexpected Jacksons throwback, This Place Hotel, and Jackson 5 medley of I Want You Back, The Love You Save and I'll Be There), but he also sticks to Michael Jackson's order of performance, perhaps most notably opening with Jam and closing with Man in the Mirror. During Micah's performance of She's Out of My Life, he comes out into the audience and holds the hand of a fan while he serenades her, a nod to Michael's tradition of pulling one lucky fan onstage and dancing with her during his performance of She's Out of My Life during the Bad and Dangerous World Tours and You Are Not Alone during the HIStory World Tour. Micah even asks, "Can I come down there?" the way Michael did during 1984's Victory Tour before descending the stage stairs to get closer to the audience. Michael's fans will appreciate Micah's show as a perfect combination of Michael's concerts from the 1980's onward. "I try to keep my performances very close to what MJ does," Micah said. "I feel if I'm going to impersonate MJ I want it to be as close as possible, especially for [Michael's] fans. MJ, for me, is all about attitude. When I get on stage I try to put as much fire into my performance as I can. I give all I have on stage."
Micah's ability to sing like Michael is an unacquired talent. "It came pretty naturally," he revealed. "I've been listening to his music all my life; maybe I learned to sing like him subconsciously." Micah's replication of Michael's moves is amazing, but he didn't start to dance until he was 17-years-old. "I have watched hundreds of hours of MJ footage and his moves just stick in my mind," he told me. It was both Micah's abilities to sing and dance like Michael which drove him to become a tribute artist and his desire to become a tribute artist which drove him to work on his abilities. "Even if I wasn't performing on stage, I would still be singing and dancing around the house because I just love doing it," he said. "MJ is such a big part of my life. I just try to imitate him as much as possible." Micah's path as a Michael Jackson tribute artist began in 2002 when he auditioned for a reenactment of the Thriller video on the streets of Lexington, Kentucky and he got the role of Michael. "I haven't stopped since," he said.
Micah has been a fan of Michael Jackson for the majority of his life. "I have a drawing I did of MJ for Black History Month. I was only five-years-old," he said. "What draws me most to MJ is his personality. He was such an amazing human being. I can listen to him talk all day." Like many Michael Jackson fans, Michael's untimely death on June 25th, 2009 affected Micah deeply. "I was at home, checking the news," he told me of how he heard the news. "It was hard for me to believe at first because I know how the news likes to make up stories, but the story seemed to not let up until they confirmed that he had passed away. Honestly, since he passed I haven't felt the same. I feel a sadness that I have never felt before. There is definitely something missing."
Michael Jackson fans around the world have felt that void and even a sense of disbelief since his passing. Days like today, with the release of Michael's second posthumous CD, Xscape, give us something to look forward to; some new songs to listen to. His spirit shines through tribute artists like Micah Isaacs and gives us something to hold on to.