THE FACT it takes seven solo vocalists to cover the full range of Michael Jacksons unique and changing voice – over his five singing decades – is testament to the fact he was undoubtedly a one-off original musical phenomenon. Along with Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra he was one of the three biggest solo stars ever!
‘Thriller’ offers us Jackson’s musical life story not his personal one – the journey that it takes us on is a joyous one, with many a ‘I know where I was when I first heard this” moment’.
Act one covers the early years of the Jackson 5 featuring Michael’s infectious young voice in classics including ‘I’ll Be There’, ABC and of course – still a Christmas favourite in our household, ‘Rockin’ Robin’.
The company take us on what is best described as ‘A happy day trip on a train’ where we look out of the window at a changing landscape of MJ’s emerging solo career. We watch the progression and uniqueness of his dance moves (attempted by clubbers in discos throughout the world) and immerse contentedly in the velvet smooth warmth of vocals embracing us like hot chocolate with marshmallows floating on the top.
We ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Shake Our Body’, are liberated and ‘Dangerous’, ‘Get On the Floor’ and ‘Off the Wall’, not stopping till we gat enough and when asked ‘Can We Feel It?’ – come the interval we do! There are smiling faces everywhere.
Act two moves us into Jackson’s theatrical and social comment era. The routines become bigger, bolder and multi-layered. There are stories with sub-text behind the lyrics of ‘Beat It, ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘Dirty Diana’ and the classic all seeing take on where society was heading –the haunting ‘Man In The Mirror’.
The passion of ‘Billie Jean’ the ‘do something’ cry of ‘Earth Song’, the message which is so relevant today in ‘Black or White’ and of course the greatest of the greatest ‘Thriller’.
Giving it their all on the vocals are Kieran Alleyne, Nick James, Trace Kennedy, Ina Seidou, Rory Taylor and Britt Quentin. They all excel individually, but having just that extra edge for me is the very watchable, extraordinary talented, Leticia Hector.
A superb dance team led by dance captains Danial Bradford and Shakara Brown, plus a knockout band under the musical direction of Andy Jeffcoat and Tom Arnold complete an exemplary company.
There is a seemingly never ending array of stunning costumes from designers Rob Jonesand, Catherine Teatum and equally impressive set and constant visuals, underpinning – but never overpowering the action by the highly talented designer Jonathan Park (he also designed the unforgettable Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds).
Gary Lloyd is the director and Choreographer that is bringing Las Vegas to Birmingham and onwards throughout the land.
‘Thriller’ is a thriller in the same way that Michael Jackson taught us ‘Bad is the new Good’ – it’s simply ‘heartwarmingly’ thrilling. I left thinking – thank you for the memories and – if your life hadn’t ended so suddenly Michael, where would you have taken us next?
Thriller Live runs at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre until Saturday, Jume 8.
Click here for tickets and more information.
Review by Euan Rose.