Thriller Live

Malvern Theatres


More of a homage to the songs and performances of Michael Jackson than a musical with a storyline, Thriller Live has now been filling auditoriums for over a decade.

Although the show slightly predates Michael Jackson's death in 2009, there was a surge in interest following that moment - but after 10 years, is the show still enthralling crowds as much as it once did?

I originally caught this show three years ago and it hasn't changed much since then, although it seems to have kept itself fresh by updating the dance moves and adding hi-tech screens and technology.

The real asset to Thriller Live is the cast of talented singers. There's men and women who perform the many, many hits of the iconic star.

While one in particular resembles Michael Jackson (Rory Taylor, who also performs the famous moonwalk and similar dance moves), on the whole it isn't about the singers impersonating him.

Instead it aims to emphasise the vast spectrum and uniqueness of his music over 45 years, whether its his Motown and disco beginnings with the Jackson 5 to a solo career that paid more attention to soul and pop.

It takes the form of a concert with a live band on stage, although the musicians are sadly mainly hidden behind a screen.

It doesn't disappoint in terms of the hits and they keep on coming with all the favourites from Pretty Young Thing to Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Bad and of course Thriller.

There's some impressive singers and they need to be to do justice to these 37 songs over more than two hours. Particularly Nick James, Trace Kennedy and Ina Seidon, who are all vocal powerhouses.

The first act focuses mainly on Jacko's early career as quirky scenes are created with an energetic dance troupe to each song.

It's fun and lively with the audience encouraged to take part; but at times the costumes and set seem a bit dated and low budget.

It's after the interval that the show steps up a gear to accompany the most famous tracks. There's bigger, glamorous dance routines, more decadent costumes and exciting special effects.

Smooth Criminal and Dirty Diana are visually stunning and made more dramatic by the slick dance moves. These are followed soon after by a suitably more sensitive mood for Man In The Mirror, They Don't Care About Us and Earth Song. All of these make you realise how in tune Michael Jackson was with the state of the world when you listen to the lyrics as they are all still very relevant today.

Thriller is a crowd-pleaser with a re-enactment of the famous music video complete with that famous red jacket and zombie dancers moving among the audience to the stage.

The encore consists of Bad, and then a little surprisingly, Black or White, before a medley of Smooth Criminal and Thriller to end.

Thriller Live doesn't delve too much into Michael Jackson's life as it is all about the songs.

It's ultimately a platform to ensure that Michael Jackson's memorable music lives on and with songs this good and a cast of such fine singers, it's no wonder it is still going strong after a decade. To 29-06-19.

Alison Brinkworth


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