Cirque du Soleil stay true to the spookiness of "Thriller." Credit: OSA Images
“Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour” combines the dramatic acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil with the iconic music of Michael Jackson in a rock concert-style show taking over the Wells Fargo Center for two nights this week. There to make sure it all goes off without a hitch is stage manager Jason Pizzi.
Pizzi, a Penn State alum from Abington, has been with “The Immortal Tour” since it opened summer 2011. A theater major in college, Pizzi, 38, worked on several shows at the Arden Theatre in Old City, and was involved in the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival. His resume also includes the annual “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” as well as other Cirque shows, including a stint as assistant stage manager for “O” in Las Vegas.
Pizzi says that despite loving Philly, his favorite part about the Cirque gig, including “The Immortal Tour,” is the opportunity to travel. “I loved being in Japan, it was my first time in Asia,” he says. “California is always really nice too.”
As stage manager for this touring production, Pizzi manages all 49 performers, making sure they’re on time and in place for rehearsals, and for the show itself. Before he can corral everyone onto their marks in whichever city they’re performing, more than 160 people pitch in to build the stage, starting at 6 a.m. on the first show day — and not ending until shortly before curtain.
And are they all blasting MJ’s music while they work? Probably not. But Pizzi, like everyone else, has his favorite songs: “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror.”
“Growing up, I had Thriller on vinyl,” Pizzi says. “[Jackson] really hit the big time when I was around seven, and he has always been important in that way.”