With the ‘King of Pop’ having passed away just over two years ago, Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre is the closest anyone will get to seeing Michael Jackson’s world famous music in action.
The question is, does this show (with tickets £25- £60) come close to replicating the onstage magic of The King, or does it sadly fall short of any of Michaels former glory and brand itself just another shoddy tribute act? Sadly, I feel the latter.
Before MJ’s death, I had tickets to his controversial 50 date 02 Arena tour that was sadly never to be. Therefore, years later when I finally managed to get my hands on Thriller Live tickets, I was delighted at being given a second chance to hear my favourite songs played ‘live’. However, with what looked suspiciously like mimed performance at times, this was not exactly the case.
The opening of ‘Thriller Live’ was as cringey as it can get – an awkward projection of Michael Jackson’s face along with power point style slides stating figures of his success set to forcefully rousing music. It only got worse as open shirted, shiny MC style figure took to the stage and started preaching (in an awkward American/English accent) about the late ‘King of Pop’ – yes I can understand the hype, but there was a definite ‘get on with it’ feeling.
Finally some singing! Music and Me, ABC, I Want You Back are reeled off, but unfortunately the sound quality is nothing compared to Michael and the Jackson 5. Yes the little boy playing young Michael is cute, but sadly cute won’t cut it when you are replicating one of the greatest musical talents of all time.
Similarly, I was shocked and appalled by the quality of the choreography and subsequent delivered dance moves. The show is supposed to be a celebration of Michael, who is infamous for his creative dancing, at his best. All I saw was some sorry looking air punches and leg kicks. However, I believe the show followed a matinee, which may have been why the ensemble looked a little off.
There was, however, one (yes, only one) exceptionally capable dancer who played the main dance version of Michael in the second act, however, as well executed his moves, it didn’t appear as if the talented dancer was actually singing. Similarly there were a few cast members who were excellent singers, such as Britt Quentin, however they did not seem to have the moves to accompany their voice.
The show did get better, picking up more pace and energy in the second act. I daresay I even enjoyed the cast’s rendition of They Don’t Care About Us, however this was possibly the only time in the show the ensemble performance, costume, music and (usually unsightly) projections came together in some sort of coherent union.
With school children whooping and waving glowsticks all over the place, and a embarrassing encore during which unwilling audience members were pretty much forced to ‘jump and wave’, Thriller Live felt more like the early stages of an X Factor live final rather than a credible demonstration of Michael Jackson’s talent. My feelings are, if you can’t perform something as good as the original, don’t bother trying.
Thriller Live tickets can be purchased online from CheapTheatreTickets.com, who also regularly run theatre ticket giveaways on the Cheap Theatre Tickets Facebook page.