The sensational Michael Jackson HIStory Show, presented by Showtime Australia, returns to the Artscape Theatre Opera House on 19 January 2017 for a short and must-see run. What makes it all the more special this time around is that the headlining impersonator is none other than South Africa’s own MJ wonder, Dantanio.
Being South African born and raised, it means a great deal to him personally to bring this international hit show home. He admits “it is truly overwhelming and sometimes unbelievable... I think I am living proof that dreams come true... in a grateful way”.
Dantanio’s first introduction to Michael Jackson was at the age of 8, turning 9, when he saw his big brother dancing to ‘Don't Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’. He simply loved the music the first time he heard it, and just like that a true Michael Jackson fan and future performer was born. Apart from his love and admiration for the legend himself, the young Dantanio was also continuously encouraged by his nephews, nieces and teachers to keep his passion alive and never give up on his performance dreams.
His journey to ultimately become the headliner for HIStory was clearly written in the (pop)stars! And it shows in the respect he has for this Michael Jackson tribute.
Dantanio explains that HIStory is more than a show, but an experience, because it gives fans the opportunity to (re)live the Michael Jackson magic, and appreciate him for the performer and true entertainer he was.
It is undeniably a daunting task to be the headliner of a large scale production that pays homage to the King of Pop. Michael Jackson himself felt the weight of that crown. Dantanio however takes the task of keeping the memory of the legend alive in his stride, as he is clearly very passionate about the show and what it offers to the public –
“Loving what I do makes it easy. At first I was living my dream performing as Michael, but I later realised that it is all for the fans... their love and energy gets me through every show.”
A key ingredient to a production of this nature is always the audience reaction and Dantanio explains that even though “fans are different around the world... they all remember how driven Michael Jackson was, and how he always gave his everything in all his concerts”. Naturally then, there are extremely moving moments in the show, because of this connection.
“In Singapore, at our meet and greet after the show, a lady who had been to 7 Michael Jackson concerts said ‘I had to remind myself at times, that is not Michael’.”
He also recalls –
“In the show I sing ‘Ben’ and I remember in Brisbane Australia the whole first and second row audience were in tears when the song started.”
Moments like these inspire and move Dantanio to give it his all when he takes the stage in memory of Michael Jackson. Audiences pay as much tribute to the legend's memory in being there, as he does in performing. With this level of commitment from both fan and performer, this show can’t be anything but spectacular.
Following in the footsteps of Kenny Wizz (who previously headlined as the Michael Jackson impersonator when the show toured South Africa in 2012) is also no easy feat, but Dantanio looks to Michael Jackson for inspiration in that too –
“I'm a Virgo as Michael Jackson was, that makes me feel a closeness... To become Michael Jackson I try to truly forget myself and become one with how Michael Jackson would walk, talk, laugh, speak, respond... and most importantly perform!!! I connect with all levels. It almost comes naturally performing as Michael Jackson. I really believe our interpretation of emotions come from a deep place... I mean what I sing, I really do, and that gets me through... Remembering Michael Jackson and staying true to his legacy is very important for us. The show is different in many ways [this time around]... but you must see it to experience it. From over 2200 light cues to costumes and set list changes... It is magical!”
Performing as Michael Jackson, Dantanio admits he also has that one favourite song, “Billie is always tops for me. The suspense in the start... I love it... the audience knows what's coming, but their reaction still moves me. And the personal content of the song makes it even more powerful to express.”
Ultimately then, what feeling would Dantanio like all audience members to take away from the HIStory experience?
“I'd like the fans to remember the magic, music, love and genius of the greatest entertainer of all time... and spread his legacy.”
Catch Dantanio in the Michael Jackson HIStory Show at the Artscape Theatre from 19 January 2017 to 29 January 2017. Tickets range from R190 to R390 and are available at Computicket outlets or online at www.computicket.com.