Michael Jackson enlists ‘High School Musical’ director for London O2 shows

Plus further details of residency revealed

Michael Jackson has enlisted ‘High School Musical’ director and choreographer Kenny Ortega to collaborate with him on his forthcoming gigs at London‘s O2 Arena.

The King Of Pop sold out all 50 dates of his ‘This Is It’ residency at the venue when they were announced in March, with the first gig set to take place on July 8.

Ortega previously worked with Jackson on his ‘Dangerous’ and ‘HIStory’ tours, and was also the man behind the choreography on the 1987 film ‘Dirty Dancing’.

In a statement, Ortega said he is aiming to create a “theatrical musical experience” for the shows. Meanwhile, Jackson‘s gigs are set to be the most expensive and technologically advanced ever staged, according to the concerts’ promoters.

AEG Live promoter Randy Phillips has revealed that the budget for the gigs is “north of $20 million” (£13 million), adding that the shows will include 22 different sets.

“It’s going to be the biggest, most technologically advanced arena show – and the most expensive – ever mounted,” Phillips told the LA Times.

Commenting on tabloid reports that the shows are due to include elephants, monkeys and a guest appearance from Jackson‘s son Prince Michael, Phillips would only confirm that “no animals” will feature.

Phillips claimed that Jackson had undergone a four-hour physical with an independent physician this spring, in which no medical inadequacies were found. The singer is supposedly currently completing an aerobics course with a personal trainer.

He confirmed that Jackson will perform between 18 and 22 songs at each gig, with aerial dancing similar to routines by Cirque du Soleil set to feature in some parts of the shows.

Yesterday (May 11) lawyers for AllGood Entertainment announced they were trying to block Jackson’s O2 Arena residency from going ahead, due to a terms in a previous contract signed by his manager Frank Dileo.