Thriller Live @ Lyric Theatre, London

cast list
Ricko Baird, Ben Foster, John Moabi, Denise Pearson, Roger Wright and Kieran Alleyne

directed by
Gary Lloyd
It was only a matter of time before the life of Michael Jackson became the basis of a musical.

The King of Pop has sold over 750 million records worldwide and his 1982 Thriller album is considered the greatest album of all time.

Add to this his fascinating and somewhat peculiar personal life, and you have the material for a potentially awesome show.

Unfortunately Thriller Live is not that show. That’s not to say it’s bad, but this simple tribute concert – the creation of Adrian Grant – would have been much better placed, say, in the O2 Arena than on a West End stage.
The production consists of a collage of 32 of Jackson’s greatest hits, including ABC, Don’t Stop Till you Get Enough, Dirty Diana and Bad, that span his career from his Jackson 5 days through to 1991’s Dangerous Album.

Each song is performed by different singers and dancers (some of who look or sound nothing like the man himself) and accompanied by some impressive visual effects. And that’s all there is – no plot, no narrative, no story: just a series of musical routines, one after the other.

It does at start off well, with its vibrant and colourful visuals, combined with some excellent costumes. The opening plunges joyfully into Jackson nostalgia; however the format of the show soon lets it down, as the lack of any real storyline to hold the attention soon brings about feeling of ennui. Unless you’re a die-hard Jackson fan, it’s unlikely that you’ll like every song they include.

Though the cast contains over 15 performers, only one of those is an actual Jackson impersonator. Subsequently Ricko Baird’s performance of Smooth Criminal stands out as the most entertaining and Micheal-esque of the bunch; youngster Kieran Alleyne also does a great job as the young Micheal. But with a face a cute as his, it’s difficult for him not to be liked.

There’s nothing really wrong with Thriller Live; it isn’t a bad production by any means, some real effort has been put into the choreography and the effects throughout the show are spectacular. There are enough great songs to keep audiences’ tapping their feet, some braver folk were even up and dancing by the end.

However, fun as it is at times, the concert format of the show lacks any real substance and, given what they had to work with – the material, the life – it’s a great shame more work wasn’t put into making this into something more memorable. Jackson is one of the greatest performers of all time, and he deserves something a bit better than this.

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