December 09, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

As Michael Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray begins his jail term in connection with the singer’s death, the new Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas celebrates much happier memories. On Dec. 3, the Mandalay Bay resort hosted the city’s splashy opening of Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. The show will play there through Dec. 27 before hitting more than 40 other U.S. markets. Immortal combines songs, videos, and voice-overs from the singer with Cirque’s signature theatrics and acrobatics, to dizzying effect. Dozens of classic Jackson tunes are packed into the two-hour show. Early on, five Afroed men dance to ”I Want You Back” in front of video of the Jackson Five; later, a pair of gymnasts spectacularly work their way through ”I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” on a floor-to-ceiling pole. Unsurprisingly, quirk abounds too: One dancer is costumed as Jackson’s chimp, Bubbles.

Cirque co-owns Immortal with Jackson’s estate and has plans to launch a different, permanent Jackson Las Vegas show in 2013 similar to its very successful Beatles show Love and Viva Elvis. Which means Vegas visitors will be experiencing his musical legacy for a long time to come.

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