Singing like the late Michael Jackson is a feat in itself, between his impressive falsetto, distinctive vocal “hiccups” and versatility. But Michael Firestone does that and more — he delivers Jackson’s hits while also performing his killer dance moves. It’s a combination that’s taken him around the world.
Even though he’s lost his voice at times because of too many back-to-back shows, and injured his knees on stage floors that weren’t as smooth as they should be, Firestone says he wouldn’t have it any other way. The father of three, who lives in Las Vegas, says the crowds make it all worthwhile.
He and his band and dancers have performed for millions. They bring “I AM KING: The Michael Jackson Experience,” to the Palace Danbury on Thursday, Aug. 8. “We usually do a one and a half-hour show and try to squeeze in as many of his iconic songs as we can,” he said in a phone chat.
There are 22 costume changes during this production. He said, “The buckles are the hardest because they can get stuck.” Firestone also said everyone onstage with him is a huge fan of Jackson’s artistry. Songs such as “Human Nature,” “Beat It” and “Thriller” always get a huge reaction.
Firestone is an acclaimed performer. He was chosen as one of two official impersonators for the Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular shows in theaters and casinos all over the United States and Canada.
Our interview took place shortly before his recent series of dates in Israel. “When we have five or six shows in a row, by the seventh night, vocally, that’s a little challenging,” he said. “I drink tea all day long. I drink tea with honey and lemon.”
Protecting his knees while dancing is also a challenge. “Just one little move can do it if a stage nail has lifted up; if you catch it when you’re sliding, that can kill your knee. I try to look over the stage and put an ‘X’ on it (where it may be dangerous).”
Firestone has perfected his moonwalking. He runs and bikes for stamina. The main thing is keeping his voice in shape for all of that singing, not to mention those high-pitched squeals — “Whoo!”
“I have done super long runs for seven months at a time and never had one day off. One night my voice went out completely and I asked the crowd, ‘Do you want your money back, or do you want to sing for me?’ They sang and I just danced.”
Jackson died at 50 on June 25, 2009. Firestone said it’s clear his fans miss him. “They’re so supportive; they cry and sing with me.” He said those fans are the greatest, but he’s certainly aware there are many who no longer revere Jackson because of the sexual abuse allegations against him.
Firestone met the King of Pop briefly once, when he handed him a tape and a business card. He said Jackson called later and they wound up speaking several times afterward, including when Jackson was rehearsing for his comeback tour.
It was a tour many had anxiously awaited. When Firestone performs, he tries to be as authentic as possible. His intention is to bring fans back to the years Jackson was at his best. “That’s what I hope to do every night,” he said.
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