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Greater London
posted/updated: 14 Sep 2018 -
Thriller Live - 4000th charity gala performance - ★★★★
Conceived and produced by Adrian Grant.
society/company: West End & Fringe (directory)
performance date: 12 Sep 2018
venue: The Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London
reviewer/s: Andrea Richardson (Sardines review)


There are few artists whose songs generate a buzz over the decades, but Michael Jackson is definitely one of them. Thriller Live opened in 2009, the same year Michael passed away, and is still going strong. This journey through his career is a non-stop tribute to his unforgettable music.

Thriller Live was created by Michael Jackson author and associate Adrian Grant and directed by award-winning choreographer Gary Lloyd.

Unlike most musicals, there is no script or story. Instead this is a celebration of Michael Jackson's music and dance legacy, bringing to life on stage his distinctive high-energy dancing and the sound of his many hits.

This was a very special evening, as this Gala performance celebrated the 4,000th performance of the show, and was also to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust. The audience were in for a treat as it featured the return of Keiran Alleyne, the singer and dancer who won the coveted role of MJ when he was just 13 years old, and now plays the adult Michael. In addition there were appearances from stars Russell Kane and Jon Culshaw, doing presenting duties, and they managed to get in some political jokes as well. The highlight was an appearance by MJ fan, Peter Andre, who performed 4 songs at different points in the show, and was vocally superb.

With over 30 songs crammed into the 2-hour show, there is a lot to see. The production values are excellent, though relies heavily on lighting and video techniques which are impressive. There are 4 lead vocalists (3 male, 1 female) and 10 very fit and talented dancers. To me this showed that bringing to life the music of the King of Pop requires a large number of people talented enough to capture his vocal range and dance skills. In addition the band were superb and it was great that the guitarists came onto stage when they had a solo.

Young Xhanti Mbonzongwana stole the show as 12-year-old Michael performing with the Jackson 5, and later with Kieran Alleyne performing Billie Jean together.

This is a tribute show, and might not be for everyone. If you want to enjoy a re-creation of Jackson’s music, it is ideal and demonstrates how talented he really was. If you are a passionate MJ fan you might be disappointed at some of the changes and how the songs are performed with different vocalists.

Most importantly the audience loved absolutely this gala event and were on their feet at every opportunity. This is a great celebration of all that Michael Jackson achieved in his career and the continuing fascination with an amazing entertainer.

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