Michael Jackson’s music topped the charts for over four decades and is still a huge influence on the music business today, even after his death in 2009. Jackson is the King of Pop, a statement that many people would find it hard to argue with: Thriller is still the world’s best-selling album of all time, ‘Scream’ is reputed to be the most expensive music video ever made, and he has influenced many artists of today, winning awards for best rock, soul and pop vocalist along the way. It would be a fight to take the title of ‘king’ away from him.
Adrian Grant has been successfully celebrating Michael Jackson’s life for nearly five years at the West End’s Lyric Theatre – as well as on tour in several countries around the world – with his creation, Thriller – Live. It’s a musical celebration with over two hours of non-stop Michael Jackson hits, from his early years in The Jackson 5 all the way through to the legendary Thriller days. Thriller – Live is a music concert, a superb piece of theatre and a magical party that everyone will enjoy, all in one.
The show I saw was the 2000th performance, and I would be happy to watch 2000 more. From Jackson fans to people who are familiar with just a few of his hits, everyone comes out with serious Jackson fever, as this production portrays his genius in an indisputable light. Starting off with numbers such as ‘ABC’, ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘I’ll Be There’, the early part of the show is led by youngster Eshan Gopal, who has an almost shockingly accomplished tone and tuning for someone so young. As the ensemble strut their stuff with cheesy 1960s moves, flares and large afros, it’s certain that this night will be far from tedious.
The majority of the show is narrated by Britt Quentin, with rather a lot of cheese; however, this man can certainly sing and he does Jackson’s songs justice. The cast do not completely mimic Jackson; rather they add their own originality to the songs, showing that Jackson’s music was indeed made for everyone. The one person who does dress, sing and dance exactly like Jackson is David Jordan, who succeeds in the role with superb conviction. Jordan’s voice is excellent, but nothing can beat his jaw-dropping dance moves in ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Thriller’: it’s as if the original music videos have been brought back to life.
On that note, the choreography of the whole production is immaculate. I ached for this show to go on longer, simply so I could be kept in awe. It is transfixing how every single dancer in the show creates an individual character of their own, despite being in a large cast who are all trying to stick to the Jackson style; I bet several other members of the audience were also struggling to work out exactly who was their favourite dancer, as each of their talents shone out.
This show gets nearly everyone dancing in the aisles, just the way Michael Jackson himself got people moving when he performed live, and I hope they carry on doing this for another thousand or more times to come. Thriller – Live is a triumphant encore to Michael Jackson’s life, and we should keep applauding the mark he has made on music for many more decades to come.
Thriller – Live is playing at the Lyric Theatre, currently booking until September 2014. For more information and tickets, see the Thriller – Live website.
Photos © Irina Chira/Sarynafoto