THEATER REVIEW: ROCK WITH YOU: THE KING OF POP, LATIN STYLE
GO ROCK WITH YOU: THE KING OF POP, LATIN STYLE For those of us brought up to giggle at Michael Jackson's foibles, from his holding his son over a balcony by his arms to his chasing Macaulay Culkin around his Neverland estate, it has been a hard job to take him seriously in the pantheon of rock musical saints. However, Seaon Stylist Bristol's engaging dance-oriented musical revue reminds us why Jackson was such a charismatic and influential figure — and it wasn't just because of his sequined glove. Bristol's presentation is less a "tribute" show than it is a revisitation of Jackson's music — many of his greatest hits are presented here, sung by Bristol but adroitly rearranged with a Latin flavor by Rebecca Maulson and Andrew Dorsett. This "salsafication" turns out quite snazzily, actually, as numbers like the old Jackson 5 chestnut "ABC" lend themselves naturally to the feverish rhythms of the merengue, while songs such as "Liberian Girl" easily transform into taut, passionate flamenco. Bristol's silky renditions add layers of sensuality to the numbers, creating a sexy mood. He's assisted by a cast of 13 mostly Latin dancers — Bristol also is the choreographer — and the ensemble's ballroom moves consistently enthrall, with jazzy acrobatics that add a crisply defined ferocity to songs such as "Man in the Mirror." Admittedly, even though the show is replete with backup dancers and a full band (led by musical director Dorsett), the piece is ultimately little more than a straightforward dance recital with some songs attached. Even so, Bristol artfully conveys through performance the sense that Jackson's music now belongs to the entire world. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 6 & 9 p.m., Sun., 3 & 7 p.m. (no perf Dec. 31); through Jan. 2. (818) 508-4200. (Paul Birchall)
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