By Matt Clevenger
TROY — MJ LIVE will bring the spirit of the “King of Pop” to the Arbogast Performing Arts Center (APAC) on Saturday, March 4, performing hits from every era of Michael Jackson’s more than 50-year career.
“We do 20 songs, all live,” the show’s star, Jalles Franca said. “We go back into the disco era, with ‘Don’t Stop Till’ You Get Enough.’ We also do rock, such as ‘Beat It,’ and ‘Dirty Diana.’”
“It’s a fun show,” Franca said. “We do the entire Jackson Five medley. We get a little funky playing ‘You Wanna Be Starting Something.’”
Franca will perform as Michael Jackson, backed by a stage show featuring a full live band and eight back-up dancers.
“It’s called MJ LIVE because it is 100% live,” he said. “We sing, and we dance and we have a good time with the audience.”
Based at the Trop Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, MJ LIVE Is one of the world’s best-known Michael Jackson tribute acts. Franca and the show’s other star, Santana Jackson, share the role of portraying Michael Jackson for the show’s many different performances.
“Our show continues to run six nights per week in Vegas,” Franca said. “We’ve been running for about 10 years now.”
“We opened at the Rio Hotel and Casino,” he said. “After the Rio, we went to the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. In 2021, we relocated to the Tropicana, which is now the Trop Hotel and Casino.”
Born in Brazil, Franca said he was first exposed to Michael Jackson’s music when he was 10 years old.
“My brother actually gave me a cassette,” he said. “That was basically my first true encounter with Michael Jackson.”
“I had no idea what Michael Jackson was singing about,” he said. “It just moved me, listening to that cassette tape. Then, when I watched him perform and do the moonwalk during ‘Billie Jean’ or lean during ‘Smooth Criminal;‘ to me, that was truly magical.”
Franca said he first performed as Michael Jackson for a school project.
“The very first time I performed as Michael Jackson was in Brazil,” he said. “I believe I was about 14 years old. I did ‘Thriller’ for the very first time in front of a huge crowd.”
“Eventually it grew into something much bigger,” he said.
Franca later moved to Las Vegas to pursue his dreams of performing.
“My passion for performing just grew,” he said. “I moved to Las Vegas when I was 16 years old, and Las Vegas has been my home since then. I’ve never lived anywhere else.”
“Had I listened to everyone else, I probably would not be here having this conversation with you right now,” he said. “You always have the naysayers, and the people who will tell you that things won’t work. You just have to stick to what you believe, and you have to believe in yourself.”
MJ LIVE Will appear at the APAC on Saturday, March 4, starting at 7 p.m. More information can be found online at www.arbogastpac.com.
“It’s amazing,” Franca said of the show. “It’s all about making people feel good.”
“No matter how many times I do the show, sometimes I get emotional,” he said. “It’s all about trying to make somebody’s day a little better.”