Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Thriller Live - Celebrating 1,000,000 tickets sold

Lyric Theatre, London


****

Conceived by Adrian Grant
Directed and choreographed by Gary Lloyd




The Thriller Live company re-create a famous Jackson moment

Celebrating the sale of its millionth ticket to a delighted 6 year old Chantelle, Thriller Live this week staged a gala performance that also marked the 5th anniversary of its residency at London's Lyric Theatre. Drawing its title from Michael Jackson's album of the same name, the show premiered during the singer's lifetime receiving his endorsement and continues to be a celebration of the works of arguably the world's greatest entertainer.

Commencing with The Jackson 5 era, the production then showcases a selection of songs from Jackson’s subsequent albums with a cast and creative team who are West End professionals at the top of their game. Identified only in the programme as Lead Singers or Dancers, the songs are shared between the 5 leads throughout the evening, men and women as the producers think appropriate and performers who are either, in the words of the song, Black Or White. Of these lead performers, David Jordan dons the suit and hat for the most recognisable recent-day evocation of Jackson the consummate performer, and his incarnation of the man is uncanny. Mannerism and the famous moonwalk are spectacularly nailed by this talented performer but whilst Jordan has responsibility for singing some of the show’s biggest hits including Thriller and Billie Jean, amongst his co-lead singers, Trenyce Cobbins, Haydon Eshun and Alex Buchanan (who does not even get a mention in the programme, but sings a fine She’s Out Of My Life) are also excellent. Eshan Gopal is the little kid in the afro wig who gives a fun and energetic interpretation of the young Jackson performing with his elder brothers.

The choreography from Gary Lloyd, who also directs, is a combination of classic Jackson moves and situations, scaled down from the stadium arena, where most of Jackson’s magic was conceived for, to the tighter confines of  a London stage. Thankfully Lloyd’s dance work builds in impact through the show as the first act’s routines, particularly when the Jackson 5 are performing, could be tighter. After the interval however, the performers move through the gears towards a dynamism that is well drilled and at times breathtaking. Man In The Mirror in particular was an exciting routine and the zombie backing work in Thriller is another piece of meticulously planned company dance, that also serves as effective tribute to the inspired vision of John Landis director of the song’s video from nearly 30 years ago.

The music on the night is excellent. John Maher who has arranged the melodies, has been with the show since its inception and his understanding of the rhythm and pulse of the Jackson sound is clearly second nature. His 6 piece band is another fine example of the production’s overall commitment to excellent production values.

In an era of juke-box musicals, Thriller Live takes the genre one step closer to pure juke-box. Eschewing any aspect of plot or story whatsoever, and subject to occasional words of introduction it unpretentiously segues from one hit to the next. The show may well be little more than a slick tribute act, but it packs a punch of perfect professionalism that Jackson himself would surely approve of.

Now booking to September 2013

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