Man behind the mirror - Forever Jackson Interview

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Jan. 4, 2017, 4:17 p.m.

Intern to the Press and Marketing Department Amelia Gill met Robin Parsons, star of Forever Jackson ahead of his performance at Millfield Theatre on Sunday 5th March at 7pm.

Over one hour was spent chatting to Forever Jackson star Robin Parsons. I was curious to find out about typical audiences, show influences and discover more about the man behind the performance.
We had arranged to meet in the relaxed and spacious café at The Dugdale in the heart of Enfield Town. After seeing images and watching YouTube video after YouTube video I was half expecting to see Robin ready for a performance. I introduced myself to a local-ish Essex chap who looked and moved very differently to the Robin in performance I had familiarised myself with. After ordering a coffee from the Café we got chatting straight away.

Why Michael Jackson?
‘Michael Jackson inspired and influenced multiple modern artists’
‘You can see his movements in the way they move, stars such as Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown and Jason Derulo. When you watch them you can tell they want to be just like Michael Jackson. There are many people who have been inspired and will continue to be inspired by this artist, his traits will be seen in many future artists in one way or another’.

Are you a fan of Michael Jackson yourself?

‘Yes I think he was a great performer, he always put on a good show. No- one is perfect and Michael had a bad time both on and off stage. However he was a showman and is now a legend to the legends’.
‘I am a fan of Michael Jackson; I am always watching Michael Jackson concerts, even when I am doing my make- up getting ready for a performance. Did I mention the make-up for the transformation takes three hours; it used to take a lot longer and didn’t look as effective. But now with practise I create the look in three hours’.
‘I just love the music videos, every video is completely different they are a short film, this had not been done before and has not been done since’.

What about Lady Gaga’s music videos?

‘Lady Gaga is very theatrical; however Michael’s music videos would be a completely different genre each time. You have thriller which is a mini horror film compared to smooth criminal which is a mini gangster film. This idea was used on stage. With each song changing the costumes, lighting and set it made them all completely different almost like seeing many different shows all in one, no modern artist changed as much as Jackson did. Even those performing in huge arenas will only have a few costume changes’.

How much do you replicate directly from a Michael Jackson concert?
‘Michael Jackson was the master of innovation! We tend to take an innovative streak and adapt it for Forever Jackson using the saying what would Michael Jackson do throughout to ensure it is as authentic as possible. It cannot be exactly the same, we have a completely different budget and completely different staging, so we have to alter and adjust’.

What are the main alterations you made?
‘We have used the backing dancers much more than they were used in a Michael Jackson concert, we have given them bigger dance numbers. To keep it modern and relevant for the current audience members, the more dance based numbers are eye catching. We often have to ask ourselves what Michael Jackson would do on our budget. I had practised the voice, it sounded really similar to Michael Jackson’s in concert, already this was an adjustment, at times Michael Jackson mimed and was interested in also putting on a show at times he also held back on his voice. The feedback was that the audience could not always understand what I was saying. I had to find the balance between keeping it true to Michael Jackson’s performance and giving the audience what they want’.

What does the future hold for audiences whom may not have been around while Michael Jackson was at his peak?
‘You may be surprised to know our biggest fan is a 12 year old boy. For someone in his generation he grew up with his parents playing Michael Jackson in the house. He is a super fan and absolutely loves it. He will dress up in full costume and his parents will book weekends away to see the show. It is audience members like this that push me to keep evolving the show. It is just as much my show as it is the audiences, with them this just cannot happen, I have tried to make it enjoyable for both fans and non-fans. As I understand many audience members will not initially be a Michael Jackson fan’.

How has the team done so well?
‘We have become a well-oiled machine that is a desirable team. So often with team work it is allowing everybody to have their say and actually just do their job. People have studied for years and they know their craft, they will create something better than I could. Giving your team creative freedom is better than trying to do something yourself. We have been approached to produces shows such as ‘Motown’.

Alongside the production, anything else we can expect in the future?

‘I am really into comedy; if it works scripted I would love to try it. Sometimes it’s more a quick in the moment thing. I have a dark humour, similar to Frankie Boyle and Jimmy Carr’.

Do you bring this to Forever Jackson?
‘Michael Jackson was a funny man off stage; apparently he would always play tricks on people, and however he was not funny on stage. I suppose thinking about it there has been moments were I have used my wit on stage. There was one couple at a performance, the lady has standing up at the front of the stage, and she seemed to be following me like a moth to the light. I could see audience members starting to get annoyed. I said to her ‘Not everyone came to see your butt’ and the husband responded ‘Yeah but it a nice butt’ to which I used my quick wit ‘But not everyone paid to see it… at least not tonight’.

What is next for Forever Jackson?

‘In the pipe line you can expect a second Michael Jackson allowing Forever Jackson to grow further and accept more performances. We are currently training him up; his nose after make- up is great, exactly like Michael Jackson’s. He has a natural turn- up at the end and he will be great’.

It was great to meet Robin, he was very bubbly, easy going and enthusiastic about Forever Jackson. His passion for the work they do really come across in his conversations! He was very dedicated to his family and to his work and this comes across in the progress and the results of Forever Jackson. I found it really interesting to hear about how they adapt the show to keep it up to date and enjoyed by audiences time and time again. I am looking forward to seeing Forever Jackson at the Millfield Theatre on 5th March 2017.

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