Audience members were dazzled with songs, dances and costumes honoring the king of pop in the Michael Jackson tribute show “This Is It” held at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Auditorium on April 2.
Bader Yousef, founder and president of EagleFIT and mastermind behind “This Is It,” was often seen as Michael Jackson during the show. He donned a sequined glove and black fedora for his performances, paying tribute to the king of pop’s signature style.
Mary Larkin, program coordinator for the Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender Resource Center on campus, was the host for the evening. Larkin provided commentary on the performances as well as laughs. She was also throwing out vintage Michael Jackson trading cards into the audience in between performances.
Larkin expressed how badly she wanted to be part of the show as a dancer, and surprised the entire audience by joining in during “Beat It.” Yousef had promised surprises for the show, and this unexpected twist was a hit with the audience.
Many dancers were involved in the show including some groups here at Eastern. Overdosed on Dance was seen dancing during songs such as “Dirty Diana” and “P.Y.T.” The EMU Swing Society, a swing dance group, performed during “Man in the Mirror.”
Tristin Taylor, who danced during “Dirty Diana,” enjoyed being a part of the event.
“This was a real fun experience,” he said. “It brought people with different perspectives together, and I thank EMU for the opportunity.”
Performers in the show sang almost all of the songs heard during “This Is It.” This allowed each singer to give their personal and unique renditions of classic Michael Jackson songs, and really displayed the amount of talent and hard work that was put in to the show.
Some of the songs performed were “Bad,” sung by Jack B and Ryan, “The Way You Make Me Feel,” performed by Jaklyia Johnson and Adel Nassar, and an acoustic version “Earth Song” sung by Emily S.
Not every performer in “This Is It” was from EMU. Kamryn Johnson, a 10 year old with dreams of becoming a singer, sang popular Jackson 5 songs, including “ABC” and “I Want You Back.” Rare Paragon Gem, a dance group from Washtenaw Community College, also took part in performances on songs such as “Will You Be There” and “Gone Too Soon,” which were sung by the director of Rare Paragon Gem, Gayle Martin.
Mahdi Alkadib was both backstage and an audience member at the show. He frequently helps backstage at EMU productions, most recently at “Colors in Harmony.”
Alkadib said from his experience, “being backstage can be stressful and tense.”
He made sure to be backstage for the first showing in case his help was needed, and decided to stay as an audience member for the second show and found it to be “fun and exciting.”
Although the show had two time slots to allow for more audience members, both shows were full and many people were unable to get a seat.
Alkadib said he expected both shows to be filled because of that fact that the show was well advertised and free.
As each audience member entered the auditorium they were handed a green wristband, to ensure they had a seat, and an “After Show Quick Survey.” The short survey asked about quality of the show, and whether or not people would want to see a “This Is It” show next year.
Yousef said that every person who turned in a survey would like to see the show again next year. Although he is graduating soon and wouldn’t be managing the event like this year, he did have some thoughts on the possibility of continuing the show. “More days and times offered” would be a top priority after the success this year’s show had.
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