Review, Thriller Live, Lyric Theatre

After making his debut in Thriller Live last year to commemorate the 4000th performance of the long-running musical, which celebrates the life and work of the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson, Peter Andre has returned to the Lyric Theatre for a limited engagement.

Part jukebox musical, part tribute to the late Jackson, Gary Lloyd’s Thriller is now in its tenth year, making it the Lyric Theatre’s longest-running show. Over the course of the evening the audience are taken on a journey through the history of Michael Jackson’s many songs, beginning with his Jackson 5 days through to his chart-topping hits from his Bad, Dangerous and HIStory albums which established the star as one of the most successful musicians of all time. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade since Jackson’s death, but what’s even more surprising is just how many hits he had during his lifetime. A small group of impressive vocalists are on hand to bring to life his many tracks such as I Want You Back, Rock With You, Can You Feel It, Beat It, and Smooth Criminal, while the dancers, led by Gary Lloyd’s jaw-dropping choreography complete with Jackson’s iconic moves, ensure that Thriller is a feast for the eyes and the ears.

Given the controversial allegations surrounding Michael Jackson’s personal life, Thriller is somewhat of a contentious show and to fully enjoy it you have to try and separate the man from the music. There are a few moments within the show which feel a little uncomfortable, but thankfully on the whole Jackson’s music is allowed to take centre stage. The chronological order of the songs does lead to some pacing issues, but Jackson’s better-known hits are certainly worth the wait and soon get the crowd to their feet. The team of vocalists including Vivienne Ekwulugo, John Moabi, Hayden Eshen, and David Julien do an exceptional job as they sing their way through Jackson’s back catalogue, backed by the fantastic band, led by musical director John Maher. Thriller is very much an ensemble piece, but Ishaan Raithatha is a joy to watch as young Michael, demonstrating endless energy as he sings and dances his way through the Jackson 5 hits, and his Rockin’ Robin rendition is one of the show’s highlights. Elsewhere Florivaldo Mossi is extraordinary and has to be seen to be believed as he captures not only Jackson’s look and voice, but his dance moves too, and for a split second you could almost be convinced that Michael Jackson himself was in front of you. Peter Andre is certainly no stranger to the limelight but it’s in Thriller where he really seems at home. He puts in an impressive performance, his voice perfect for belting out Jackson’s hits, and he attacks each of his songs with gusto as well as flawlessly capturing the late star’s footwork. Andre’s rendition of The Way You Make Me Feel is inspired and effortlessly cool, while his performance of Man in the Mirror has the audience eating out of his hands.

While there isn’t necessarily a story to the show, there are various themes throughout, from a roaring 20s club to Ancient Egypt, and the vast array of costumes help to set the scene brilliantly. Jonathan Park’s set design sees the inclusion of many LCD screens, which although feel a little dated given the tricks of more modern musicals, do add to the colour of the show.

Whatever you might think of Michael Jackson, there’s no denying his popularity among his fans, and that’s more than evident during the show, the atmosphere electric and the audience certainly ready to party. An entertaining show bursting with energy and boasting a talented cast, slick choreography and some unforgettable songs, Thriller is a must-see for any Michael Jackson fan.

Thriller Live is playing at the Lyric Theatre until 26 April 2020 (Please note Peter Andre is starring in the show until 22 December).

Photo credit: Betty Zapata

 

 

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