What a Thriller
Newspaper Culture Editor Rebekah Chilvers checks out the smooth criminal moves in the Michael Jackson musical, Thriller Live.
Waiting for Thriller Live to start, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this homage to Michael Jackson. Would this musical have a storyline? Or would it just be a reel of MJ’s songs? As it turned out, this jukebox musical didn’t have a story to it, but it didn’t really need it. The chronology of Jackson’s most popular songs was enough to fill two and a half hours with colourful, high-energy and passionate performances.
Occasionally, there was a break from the spectacle to narrate the specific part of Jackson’s life that corresponded to the subsequent set of music. It didn’t slow down the pace of the show, for me, though – it just reminded me of the many, many achievements that Jackson had. The so-called ‘King of Pop’ had success unlike almost anyone else, and it is hard to forget that when song after song is a hit.
The standout performers were, without a doubt, Cleo Higgins and Jesse Smith, whose juxtaposition between soulful and rock vocals showcased the best in Jacksons’ songs. From P.Y.T to Dirty Diana, these two vocalists were the ones that, in particular, made me sit up and pay attention. Don’t get me wrong, without the addition of the other lead vocalists – Tyrone Lee, Lascel Wood and Sean Christopher – the show would have lacked another dimension and additional powerful voices. The dancing was amazing. Sean Christopher, as a sort of ‘reincarnation’ of MJ, moonwalked and crotch-grabbed perfectly which brought Jackson to the stage visually. At certain moments, I did have to remind myself that this wasn’t actually Jackson himself I was watching.
The show captured the many different genres that Jackson mastered: pop, funk, disco, soul and rock were all incorporated into the show’s impressive 34-track set-list. Both the vocal performances and dancing in Thriller Live gave me something to really smile about, and left me wondering if I could get away with seeing the show twice in one week, it was that good. I had never considered myself a huge Jackson enthusiast in the past, but after seeing the show, I may have to reconsider that. Jackson changed the face of music in the past four decades, and Thriller Live opened my eyes to the enormity of this accomplishment.
Whether you’re Michael Jackson’s number one fan, or you are somewhat of a beginner to the Smooth Criminal-singer’s repertoire, go and see Thriller Live with your best ‘shamone’ ready, and you won’t have a half Bad evening.