By Natalee Kerr
A renowned Michael Jackson impersonator will moonwalk his way into Geelong next month on his latest tour.
Melbourne-based tribute artist TJ Cappola was once crowned “Australia’s best Michael Jackson dancer“ after winning a television competition in 2009.
“I received tickets to meet Michael over in London as the prize. It was a dream come true,” Cappola said.
But disappointment shortly struck the avid fan after receiving news that left him “heart-broken”.
“Michael died just two weeks after the competition,’’ he said.
“I got so close but I never got to see him. I was absolutely devastated.”
Jackson died aged 50 in 2009 while preparing for a series of comeback concerts. His personal physician was later convicted of Jackson’s involuntary manslaughter.
Child-abuse allegations dogged the King of Pop’s last two decades. In 2005 a jury found him not guilty of abusing a 14-year-old boy but other males came forward after Jackson’s death with further claims of abuse.
Cappola discovered Jackson’s music at the age of 10 after going through his parent’s cassette collection.
“I was just so enticed by his music.”
Cappola said he had “always loved“ dancing but addmitted it wasn’t his forte.
“When I first saw Michael on TV everything changed.
“I was never interested in dancing before that.“
Cappola then taught himself all of Jackson’s famous moves in a bid to dance “just like him”.
“I’ve never had a dance lesson in my life,” he said.
“I would just spend hours practicing in my living room watching him on TV and replicating his dance moves.”
At 13-years-old Cappola decided to take his impersonations into the public domain.
“I landed myself a regular gig at a cabaret theatre restaurant in Hawthorn,” he said.
“I performed every Friday and Saturday night for two years before they closed down.”
Cappola has since been wowing audiences at weddings, birthdays, theatres, festivals and sold-out shows across Australia and Asia.
The 28-year-old insisted his Jackson re-creation was “the closest to the real deal”.
“I’m very particular about being authentic,“ he said.
The show features a band and professional dancers, along with identical choreography and replica costumes.
With the tenth anniversary of Jackson’s death approaching next month Cappola hopes his tribute “keeps Michael’s legacy going”.
“His music is just too big and too important to be left behind,” he said.
“He’s not like anyone else; his music is so iconic and acts as a soundtrack to so many people’s lives.
“I’ve had people come up to me after the show in tears because his music means that much to them.”
Cappola will perform his Remember the Time Tour at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre on 15 June.