THE MAN who co-created Michael Jackson’s comeback show said the singer was like a "lost boy" before he died.
Choreographer Kenny Ortega also said his concerns about his friend’s well-being had been brushed aside by his personal physician Dr Conrad Murray.
Dr Murray denies a charge of involuntary manslaughter over the death of Jackson on June 25, 2009, which a coroner determined was caused by use of the powerful anaesthetic propofol.
Mr Ortega, who choreographed the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing,” was the first witness to give evidence for the prosecution in Dr Murray’s trial at Los Angeles Superior Court.
He described how Jackson had turned up at rehearsal in Los Angeles on June 19, 2009 in a worried state.
He said: “My friend wasn’t right and wasn’t well, with something going on that was deeply troubling me. He was chilled and he appeared lost and a little incoherent. Although we were conversing, I did feel that he was not well at all.”
Mr Ortega said Jackson did not rehearse that day. In an email written at the time he said: “I was feeding him, wrapping him in blankets to warm his chills, massaging his feet to calm him and calling his doctor. It broke my heart. He was like a lost boy. He is terribly frightened it is all going to go away.”
According to Mr Ortega Jackson had appeared “weak and fatigued” and was “rambling and obsessing” and it seemed no one was “taking responsibility and caring for him on a daily basis.”
He said although he had attempted to call Dr Murray with his concerns, the doctor did not pick up.
Mr Ortega told the court he attended a meeting at Jackson’s home on June 20th. He said Dr Murray approached him at the house, upset that he had not allowed Jackson to rehearse the previous day.
“He said I should stop trying to be an amateur doctor and psychologist and stick to directing the show and leave Michael’s health to him,” Mr Ortega said.
“He said Michael was physically and emotionally capable of handing all his responsibilities for the show. I was shocked because Michael didn’t appear to me to be physically or emotionally stable.”
Mr Ortega told the court Jackson returned to rehearsals on June 23rd and June 24th and seemed like a different person.
“He entered into rehearsal full of energy, full of desire to work, full of enthusiasm. It was a different Michael,” he said.
The jury were shown video footage of those rehearsals. Jackson performed his hit song ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ and a string of energetic dance moves, keeping up with dancers aged between 18 and 24.
The court also saw Jackson’s last on-stage performance before he died, singing “Earth Song.”
Earlier, they had been shown a photograph of the singer’s body on a hospital trolley.
They were also played a recording of his voice from six weeks before he died in which he sounded barely coherent.
The prosecution suggested that Dr Murray was “grossly negligent” giving his patient propofol and then leaving the room.
Defence lawyers argued that it was Jackson himself who self ingested propofol while Dr Murray was out of the room.