Cirque du Soleil

Locals bring back King of Pop from behind scenes

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Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: The Immortal will stop at the Schottenstein Center Friday and Saturday, April 18-19. Tickets start at $48. Visit cirquedusoleil.com.

A Cirque du Soleil tour is a massive undertaking, and its partnership with the estate of Michael Jackson on Michael Jackson: The Immortal is no exception. It takes a small city of people to put on a show, many of those people doing their work before the show even begins or behind the scenes.

Yet, whenever people find out that Ricky Morant and Brittany Kiefer aren’t performers, their interest begins to wane.

“They usually ask me if I can get them tickets,” Morant said, only half-joking.

Morant, a Whitehall-Yearling High School and Ohio State University graduate, works in the training and medical department for the tour. Kiefer, also an OSU alum, is an acrobatic rigger on the tour. Both said their work gets plenty of appreciation and offers them plenty of professional satisfaction.

“We make a lot happen in a short amount of time,” Kiefer said of her team, whose job begins when a show loads into a facility, continues through the entire set-up, works the riggings during the shows and into tear-down.

“I manage the grid. My team is responsible for flying the performers and the general safety of all the acrobats. On a production level, we move the show, building the rigging, getting everything hung.”

The dedication to safety requires “a very high attention to detail,” she said.

As a medical trainer (his title is “physio”), Morant also is tasked with performer safety. He runs classes and workout sessions designed to maximize fitness and minimize the risk of injury, treating both the physical and psychological effects on injuries when they do happen.

“You work so many hours every day, then you can take a deep breath and take in the show, knowing you had a small or sometimes not-so-small part in putting it on,” he said.

Morant studies athletic training at OSU, and his work with the football, track and field, swimming, wrestling and, most importantly, men’s gymnastics teams serves him well. Additionally, he minored in dance and worked for a time with BalletMet Columbus as a trainer – also a benefit in this dance-heavy Cirque show.

Kiefer got her start working with arena shows as a student production coordinator at the Schottenstein Center, where she also worked after graduation. From there, she connected with the Walking With Dinosaurs tour and more recently worked on the set crew for Shakira before joining Cirque.

“It’s great to come back to Columbus and it’s always great to play the Schott. It’s where I came from, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do what I do now without those experiences and those people,” Kiefer said.

Morant, whose family still lives in central Ohio, takes pride in bringing his work “home” as well.

“My parents have never seen a show that I’ve worked, so I’m hoping maybe now they’ll understand why I don’t call home every night,” he joked.

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