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THRILLER Live

The New Alexandra Theatre

****

IF ever a show delivered exactly what it says on the tin, or in this case, the posters and the programme, it is THRILLER Live.

There are no revelations, no drama set around Michael Jackson’s controversial life, not even a hint of a biog, apart from giving some timeline to songs, just his music and lots of it – 30 or so tracks in all.

And that is what people had come for, a celebration of the late pop star’s music, a tribute show, no more, no less, although perhaps someone should have mentioned to the women sitting in the row in front, joining in every song and shouting for Michael at regular intervals, that Jackson is not actually with us any longer.

To be fair though she lived and loved every minute and was not the only one in an enthusiastic audience, for behind all the hyperbole, and there has been shedloads since Jackson’s drug induced death in 2009, he was an imporjacksontant and influential figure in the history of pop and he did have a big back catalogue for the Thriller producers to play with.

The format is simple, start with Motown and the Jackson Five and work your way through to Thriller and Bad with five lead singers, including a Michael Jackson look alike, Sean Christopher, who had all the moves off pat.

Particularly impressive were Rory Taylor who produced a moving She’s Out of My Life – cue tears from woman in front – and Cleopatra Higgins who has a stunning voice which at full power could probably crack anvils.

Add a superb group of 10 dancers, five men and five women, throw in a quality six piece band, spectacular choreography from director Gary Lloyd and a set from Jonathan Park, full of pop art video images from Colin Rozee, and you have an all action, full blast, high energy, non-stop show. Trust me, nobody puts weight on in the cast of Thriller!

Lead singers Shaquille Hemmans and  Michael Kavuma added to the mix with pantopop. We have all been to pantos, oh yes we have, when the audience is split for a contest to see who can sing/shout loudest.

Well Hemmans and Kyuma managed it for a pop song and even managed to get everyone, or nearly everyone, on their feet in the process.

The first half, from the early years, was lively and fast paced with the cast full of enthusiasm but somehow there seemed to be a vital spark missing. Something was not quite clicking.

Whatever it was, the cast found it and more, cranking it up a couple more notches after the break with some quite stunning routines to tracks from Thriller and Bad.

Lloyd has regularly added new elements to the show since it opened in the West End in 2009 and has recently brought in enhanced production values and state of the art new video displays to keep the show fresh and exciting.

You won’t know any more about Jackson at the end of the show than you did at the start, nut that was never the intention, instead you will have enjoyed two and a half hours of pretty well non-stop music celebrating his legacy, and you will end it on your feet.. To 12-03-16.

Roger Clarke 

07-03-16

 

Terrific cast with amazing routines

****

THIS isn’t a musical telling the life story of the legendary Michael Jackson, but it is feast of his massive hits for fans packing the theatre for the week-long run.

So while there is no interesting story to follow, the quality of singing and dancing is a bonus and underlines why the super star became such a global sensation.

Very few words are spoken, apart from the occasional tribute to MJ, but after a slightly bumpy start on opening night, when the sound was rather muffled, the action became, at times, breathtaking.

Gary Lloyd’s choreography is stunning, featuring some amazing routines, and the Thriller scene, with the walking dead, is particularly effective.

The five lead vocalists – Sean Christopher, Shaquille Hemmans, Cleopatra Higgins, Michael Kavuma and Rory Taylor are excellent throughout this thriller of a show which generates huge audience participation, and one middle aged woman near me repeatedly mopped away tears of emotion.

The terrific cast go through more than 30 numbers, with the LED lighting adding to the excitement, and the six-piece on-stage band are superb.

The pulling power of this concert is shown by the fact that very few tickets are still available.

Thriller continues to thrill until 12.03.16

Paul Marston 

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