Michael Jackson impersonator Dantanio Goodman is back home and ready to bring the King of Pop back to life. The Kimberley-born entertainer plays Jackson in Showtime Australia’s newest Michael Jackson tribute production HIStory: King of Pop, which premieres in Joburg on Friday. Supplied
It isn’t hard for Dantanio Goodman to single out the darkest moment in his life: the day his idol Michael Jackson died.
The Kimberley-born entertainer was relaxing at home when his nephew broke the tragic news to him. “He came to my room and said, ‘I got some news for you, so please don’t freak out.’ He is a joker and so he always messes around with me. I asked him ‘What do you mean?’”
“He broke the news that Michael had passed away. I simply couldn’t believe it. I didn’t move from my bed that day.”
For those who don’t know Goodman, not only is he one of Jackson’s biggest fans, but is also regarded as one of the best Jackson impersonators in the world. For Goodman, the King of Pop’s death in 2009 was personal.
“The crazy thing is, the day Michael died, I started receiving calls from fans all over the world who expressed their sympathies.
“Michael was family to me. If you love something and you adore it and follow it to the extent that I have, then it really does affect you.”
For several years, Goodman has been impersonating the King of Pop in front of audiences around the globe. Now, the Joburg-based entertainer has returned home and is once again ready to bring the legendary icon back to life.
Goodman plays Jackson in Showtime Australia’s Michael Jackson tribute production HIStory: King of Pop, which debuts in Joburg from Friday to December 22.
The world-famous tribute concert is a two-hour musical spectacular that takes audiences on a nostalgic journey back to Jackson’s early days as a member of The Jackson 5, his groundbreaking performances in the 1980s and his continued reign as the King of Pop into the 21st century.
In 2014, Goodman was scouted by the show’s director, Johnny van Grinsven, to take on the challenging role. Showtime scouted over 1200 people from around the world, eventually choosing Goodman for the role.
“They were looking for somebody who has the performance style, personality and the build of Michael because it’s a full package deal,” said Goodman.
“You can’t sing, but not dance; you can’t dance and not sing. The show is a live package. We try to give the fans a Michael Jackson experience. The director auditioned me again after seeing my videos. Luckily he liked what he saw and the rest is history, as they say.”
Goodman said he had felt an affinity with the pop star from the age of 9.
His appreciation of Jackson’s dancing evolved into obsessive practice as he taught himself to emulate every detail of the pop star’s trademark style.
“The first time I heard a Michael Jackson song was when I saw my older brother dance to an MJ song; that’s where the affinity started.”
By 10, he already knew half of Jackson’s collection and also knew how to do the moonwalk.
“I was a fanatic. When I love something or I am into something I zoom into it. I started at 9, and by 10 I could do the moonwalk. I would come back from school, put my bag down, go to the front porch and start working on my moves . Everybody used to tease me and think I’m crazy, but that’s what I had to do.”
For the next few years, Goodman would study Jackson’s every move, including the way he talked, the way he moved, the way he danced and the way he interacted with fans.
“I remember back when I was growing up in the 1980s, it was a time when VHS was out and the VHS we had only had the play button, the pause button and the slow-motion button. I used to work that slow motion button so much so that we had to take it in for repairs.”
Goodman said it was impossible to perfect the Jackson act. “You never stop learning, you have to stay open to new ideas. Michael was always about reinventing himself and finding the next big thing.
“In my own way, I’ve tried to encompass my own idea of how I would interpret something, within the discipline of what Michael would have done.”
While Goodman didn’t get the opportunity to meet Jackson, or see him perform live, he was fortunate to meet Jermaine Jackson in Berlin last year.
“It was Michael’s 60th birthday and I had been invited to Germany to pay tribute and Jermaine was there and we got to speak.
“He was very heartfelt and proud of having met me. I told me how much it meant to me to meet him. It was like meeting your musical big brother. Hopefully I’ll meet the rest of the family one day.”