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With the incredible music that Michael Jackson left behind for the world, as well as his exciting and innovative dance moves, eccentric personality and genius mind, there is a lot that could have been done with a musical about the man who changed the face of popular music. Thriller Live, however, skips past any kind of narrative or original story and cuts straight to the songs and dance routines, playing on the safe side whilst entertaining packed audiences of fun-hearted people who just want to see a happy tribute paid to the King of Pop. The music is a focal part of the show, showcasing Michael’s biggest hits in a (somewhat) chronological order, beginning in his days as part of The Jackson Five with his four brothers at the age of 11, through to when he became an icon and one of the biggest-selling artists that the world has ever known. With numerous performers embodying different sides of Michael’s personality, his classic hits such as Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel and Beat It are performed to a high standard with eye-popping choreography, and occasionally performances are introduced in a (somewhat dodgy) American accent by Haydon Eshun, breaking up the show a little. As the musical focuses on Michael Jackson’s music, most of the classics are in there. However, as a huge fan myself, I was disappointed to see that so much of Michael’s earlier songs such as the lesser known Get on the Floor from the Off The Wall album were showcased (five songs were sung from this album, in total), when only one song from the brilliant HIStory album is performed (They Don’t Care About Us). Much of Michael’s later music is forgotten about which is a shame, especially as songs such as Earth Song, You Rock My World and Blood on the Dance Floor were all hits in the UK and have brilliant music videos to go with them, enabling for potentially excellent performances, like those that were seen when songs such as Thriller were executed. The choreography is top-notch and definitely a highlight in the show. With the famous Smooth Criminal ‘lean’ and the impressive routine to Billie Jean in which the Moonwalk is showcased several times, it is exciting to watch really talented people up on stage emulating Michael brilliantly. Some of the performances are enough to give you goose bumps, which makes you wonder just how incredible it must have been to have seen the actual man Moonwalking on stage. Whilst the show jumps from song to song through dance numbers, ballads and humanitarian pieces, it is a shame that no kind of storyline is placed in the show, but you soon get swept up in the incredible music and passionate performances that all you really want to do is get up, dance and enjoy it all (which we all did throughout the show, encouraged by cast members!). If you love Michael Jackson as a performer and want to see a tribute more than anything else, then Thriller Live is a great way to do so. Just be prepared to shake your body down to the ground! Recommended: Recommended for those who love Michael Jackson’s brilliant music or for those who just want a fun evening out and a little boogie! Where I sat: Centre of the Stalls towards the back, row K, seat 5. Sightlines were great and I didn’t feel far away from the action at all.
"For many, however, the fact that a show whose script amounts, at most, to two pages of A4 has made it to the heights of Shaftesbury Avenue is a further sign of the hell and handcart dumbing-down of the West End."
"This is great stuff. It makes you want to move around in your seat...There's a wonderful catalogue of late Motown, blues and early indie rock that covers a whole era of pop music at its best."
"The other numbers in this half are, ironically, strongest when they slavishly copy their model - because the choreography for Beat It, Smooth Criminal, and Thriller actually works on stage, lending some backbone that's lacking in the earlier numbers."