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Nine-year-old Jackson impersonator is relevant for Vegas show fans at Stratosphere

It could not have been more symbolic or telling: one day after Michael Jackson’s sudden passing, a nine-year old Vegas native makes an appearance at a popular Las Vegas Strip tribute production in full Jackson garb and demonstrates pop culture’s love and adoration for the King of Pop.

Nicolas, a mere fourth-grade student, has been enamored of Michael Jackson since the former was as old as Jackson when at age five he first energized a microphone with his tenor vocals. The quasi Pupil of Pop has been developing and refining his own tribute to MJ primarily by watching MTV-style music videos, and now makes for a convincing Mini-Me in his execution of trademark dance moves and swank costuming so emblematic of the now-late elder statesman. At age nine, the dead-ringer has won several talent contests at his East Las Vegas elementary school.

So it was no wonder when Nicolas turned a few heads on June 26 at the 6:30 p.m. performance of American Superstars, a tribute show at the Stratosphere Las Vegas featuring the likes of Elvis, Brittany Spears, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Michael Jackson. The evening’s nearly sold-out show came barely one day after Jackson’s untimely death.

Of course the King of Pop was on everybody’s mind that night; this helps explain why a moment of silence was called just before Jackson impersonator Frederick Henry took the stage. After the artist performed “Jam” from 1991 then “Billie Jean” and “Beat it” from Jackson’s 1980s chart toppers, he invoked a special, seemingly impromptu tribute to the entertainer he so closely emulates.

“I’ve toured 14 different countries as Michael Jackson,” said Henry. “I have much love and respect for Michael. I’d like to applaud him tonight. Michael will live forever. Can I get an amen?”

The Jackson impersonator, just one-week into his gig at the Stratosphere, then walked into the audience and moved knowingly toward Nicolas, who was seated at a table with his grandmother.

Dressed in a silk-screened, white t-shirt of the Kid from Gary, a sequined black jacket, striped black pants, sparkly silver socks and black shoes, a sequined glove on his right hand, and topped by a black Fedora that could neither quite cover neatly ponied hair nor several thick Jheri-curled strands adorning his face and cheeks, Nicolas was an unmistakable Michael. Standing side-by-side and face-to-face, Damian and Nicolas impersonated and entertained for perhaps two minutes. It was exciting, inspiring, touching. The youngster was spot-on. And the crowd gave it up with heavy applause.

After the show, as the audience converged toward the theatre foyer for photo-ops with the cast, Nicolas, standing at just over four feet, could not be overlooked. Stoked audience members, high on Jackson memories, politely asked to be photographed with the handsome performer. Of course he acquiesced.

Somewhat shy like the megastar he emulates, Nicolas says only, “I like the way he dances,” in response to a question about how his fascination with Jackson started. Not everything needs to be explained in fantastic detail.

Standing politely and quietly for the next photo request, a black armband tied around his left arm ostensibly as a symbol of mourning, his grandmother adds she can’t even guess at how many times the two have seen American Superstars. “We used to go every Sunday,” she offers.

Fortunately, Nicolas appears to be experiencing a bona fide childhood; it’s widely known Michael never had one. Not one week into summer, he’s having fun in the family swimming pool. And that’s just were he was the afternoon of June 25 when his grandmother broke the news to him about Jackson’s demise. Sadly, Nicolas will never get his wish to meet the music icon he so closely imitates.

However, with his talent, there is a chance he’ll become a music icon himself someday. In an American-Superstar-tribute-show sort of way perhaps.

 

By Jay Barber, Catalina Media Group

Filed under: Entertainment

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