‘Tribute’ set for Saturday

FAIRMONT – Luis Castillo was a young teen when he first impersonated Michael Jackson in front of an audience.

Now 30, Castillo has evolved as a performer, but his passion for the king of pop has not waned.

Castillo – who goes by LJ Jackson on stage – will be joined by a small dance troupe Saturday at Fairmont Opera House for “Legacy: A Tribute to the King of Pop.”

“At 14 and 15, we were just about having fun. Now we have to consider, what are serious MJ fans thinking?” he said.

He understands. His own obsession began as a kid. Making money as an impersonator never occurred to him, though, not until a dance teacher saw him perform in a talent show. He has had no formal training, but has watched countless hours of music videos and, even more important, live performances to get in tune with Jackson’s moves and personality.

“I’m actually a dancer,” Castillo said. “This particular show has no live singing. We’ve done live shows where we do sing, but I find people are more interested in seeing you performing like Michael and looking like Michael than hearing your version of his music.”

Also, he notes that even the king lip synced at his live performances, due to the physicality of his shows.

“If you look at the footage and see the reaction he causes … it’s unbelievable,” Castillo said. “… A lot of the entertainment value is outside his singing.”

Off the stage, without the makeup, Castillo bears no resemblance to Jackson.

“It’s all 3 pounds of makeup and wigs and costumes,” he said, laughing.

The Legacy show includes 13 to 16 costume changes, but Castillo wears the same hair and makeup throughout, sticking with Jackson’s look from the early 1990s.

“I just want [people] to have a good time, to enjoy themselves and enjoy his work for the work – the costumes, the dancing,” Castillo said. “A lot of times we get people who compliment us, pointing out that Michael had such a turbulent life and not enough attention was paid to his body of work. We like to have people sit back and look at his work he gave us over all those years.”

To purchase tickets to see Legacy, go online to www.fairmontoperahouse.com or call (507) 238-4900. Seats are $20 for adults and $10 for students.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., with doors and the bar opening at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets also are available at the box office prior to the show and the night of the performance, unless it sells out in advance.