Taylor Productions set "This Is It" | ParkRecord.com

Taylor Productions set "This Is It"

Tanya Taylor, artistic director of Taylor Productions, wanted to pay respect to the late Michael Jackson.

So she teamed with the Egyptian Theatre Company for the upcoming tribute "This Is It: A Michael Jackson Celebration," which opens Nov. 26.

"I love his music," Taylor said of the Grammy Award-winning pop icon during an interview with The Park Record. "I think he was a genius in the field of entertaining people, and I think he was someone who was very misunderstood."

Jackson, who died of cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009, garnered more than 386 awards, including 26 American Music Awards and 40 Billboard Awards.

He was inducted twice in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist. His 14-minute music video for the 1982 hit "Thriller," directed by director John Landis, was the first of its kind and was inducted in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2009.

During the later part of his life, though, he was dogged by legal problems and bankruptcy, which provided fodder for tabloids and mainstream press.

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Taylor, whose favorite Jackson songs are "Smooth Criminal," "Beat It" and "Black or White," said she didn’t want her show to reflect any of Jackson’s hardships.

"I don’t like hearing the ideas that were created about him in the press," she said. "I would like people to become more human themselves and not joke about him so much and see him for his good things.

"We’re going to focus on his music," she said. "We’re putting together 15 of his songs that we enjoy and we’re recreating the dance moves to the best of our ability."

Taylor and co-producers Noah Cohen and Christine Baird sifted through 25 of their favorite Michael Jackson songs to come up with a performance outline.

"Usually, if it was just me producing the show, I would have chosen all the songs," Taylor said. "But all three of us had ideas we wanted to include. So we had to sit down and figure out the best ones to use. It was hard because there are so many good songs. But I think we came up with a really good list."

Some of the songs included in the performance are the Top 10 hits "Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal" and the No. 1 smash "Beat It."

"The production kind of looks at the world through his eyes," Taylor said. "Because he was so creative, I think he would appreciate something that’s well choreographed and unified.

"Our goal was to create something that was visually dynamic."

Even before her company started in 1995, Taylor knew she had a knack for producing shows.

"I put together high school shows when I was a senior growing up in Montana," she said. "They didn’t have any sort of music program, and coming from a family that was musically oriented, I thought that was a shame.

"So I decided to raise money to build the high school’s softball diamonds by producing a show.

"That’s when I realized I had potential in producing and visualizing things."

Taylor, who graduated the University of Utah with a degree in performing arts, said performances helps youngsters and adults develop confidence.

The "This Is It" dancers, who are from Park City and the surrounding areas, range in age from 11 years old to adult.

"While this production has more professional adults in the cast, the kids involved can witness, be part of and learn from the process. That develops confidence. And when a child builds confidence it is reflected in everything else they do, and they can excel in whatever field they go into.

"I love producing something that brings people together," Taylor said. "With this show, we can let our skills show and use our talents to do that."

"This Is It: A Michael Jackson Celebration" will be performed by Taylor Productions at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27, at 8 p.m. There will also be a performance Saturday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger. Tickets will be $18 and $12 at the door. For more information call 649-9371 or visit http://www.egyptiantheatrecompany.org.