Lehman Center to hold Michael Jackson tribute extravaganza

DEARDRA SHULER | 4/12/2011, 5:31 p.m.

No matter what one personally thinks of Michael Jackson, there is no denying he was a musical genius, unique unto himself, the likes of which this world might never again see. He was aloof, yet caring, having donated enormous amounts of money to charities.

There is a price to pay for genius in this world because it sets one apart and puts one in the position of being original in a world that is trapped into a programmed mindset that seeks to attack or tear down those who stand above the status quo. Michael Jackson was an original; a child-man who maintained a degree of innocence so that his art form tapped into an untethered purity imbued with wonderment and imagination.

King Michael had the Midas touch when it came to music, dance and fashion, and he was an astute businessman as well. Once on stage, Jackson was thrilling and mind blowing.

MJ impersonators Michael Firestone, Pete Carter and 11-year-old Ivan Kelly will depict the various stages of Michael Jackson's career at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx on Saturday, June 26 (the day after the anniversary of Jackson's passing on June 25, 2009, due to cardiac arrest) in tribute to Michael Jackson: The King of Pop.

"This is a never-seen-before or again production. It will be like no other. We have all-star dancers performing unbelievable dance numbers to Jackson's many songs. We will have the GospeLive choir doing harmonies. There will be DJs, percussionists, video jockeys and, of course, our three well-respected Michael Jackson impersonators and tribute artists," said Steve Love, the producer. "We plan on a few surprises. This will be an extravaganza. Tickets are going fast, so get them early," continued Love.

"It takes me all day to prepare to do a Michael Jackson show. I start six hours before the show to get my voice ready," said impersonator Michael Firestone. "It takes about three hours to transform into Jackson. I have to white out my face completely and erase my own features with makeup. No one has Michael Jackson's eyes, so I have to start with my eyes, since eyes are the window to who you are. Once I get his eyes correct, I start on the cheekbones.

"Michael wore lip liner to conceal the vitiligo. Usually, the disease centers around the eyes, mouth area and hands. It's a gradual change in coloration over time. Thus, Michael had varying shades of coloration, which he evened out with heavy makeup as his skin tone gradually whitened. Michael attempted to deal with his disease privately, but when folks criticized him he finally revealed his affliction. But still many people didn't believe him.

"In order to transform into Michael, I have studied his life and in some ways channel his persona and psyche. There is always someone in the crowd who is a heckler, but since Michael passed, the audience has been nice. I hope people will continue to be kind to Michael's memory and to his children," said Firestone, who performs in Las Vegas and across the country.