Theatre Review: Thriller Live

10 January 18 words: Jared Wilson

Do You Remember A Time when Michael Jackson seemed Invincible? A Dangerous Smooth Criminal who was so Off The Wall that he changed the use of the word "Bad" in History? Can You Feel It? If that’s The Way You Make Me Feel and you’re looking for a Thriller, This Is It. You can’t Beat It. 

So let’s get this out of the way early, this show is about the musical output of Michael Jackson. It doesn’t touch at all on the odder stuff surrounding his life such as (deep breath); his abusive relationship with his father, excessive plastic surgery, marrying Elvis’ daughter, repeated allegations of child abuse, dangling babies off hotel balconies, his home/theme-park "Neverland" and his pet chimp Bubbles.

Instead of all that nonsense, this is a musical medley of a show that crosses the whole spectrum of his musical output. It starts with those early hits with his brothers like Blame It On The Boogie and I’ll Be There right to his latter days with epics like Earth Song. Obviously in-between those are two of the best-selling albums in history: Thriller and Bad. Those two albums make up 60% of the material for this show. The other 40% is distributed across his still, incredibly extensive, body of work.

It’s the brainchild of MJ superfan Adrian Grant, who wrote fanzines, books and more MJ. It originally premiered as the Michael Jackson Experience and MJ even saw it during his lifetime. But for the best part of the last decade, American singer Britt Quentin has acted as resident director of the show, he is present and correct in Notts for the show and completely masterful in his lead role.

The first half is entertaining enough. For me, I’m not a big fan of the disco and soul from his early years, but the dancing and costumes are great throughout. There’s an awkward point in the first half where a wardrobe malfunction nearly embarrasses one of the lead vocalists, Shaquille Hemmans (who aside from this is great). He’s done one of many quick costume changes and left his flies completely undone, which the audience can see but he can’t. This isn’t intentional panto and it won’t happen every night, but thankfully everyone escapes the flashpoint without incident.

The second half, however, is completely epic! For anyone in their thirties and forties you start to realise quite how much MJ soundtracked your life. This show brings a new life to it all and is brilliantly thought-out, rehearsed and on-point. There’s not really a singer, dancer or musician that puts a foot wrong, but special mention should be given to singer Adriana Louise – she hits every note all night with a brooding intensity – dancer Antony Morgan for the comedy and the backflips, and the dancer who is unnamed – presumably intentionally – in the programme, but who has locked his performance of MJ's dancing to the point that, under those lights if you squint a little, you really do feel like you’re watching the real thing.

For a January show, this is a packed house and it clearly meant a lot to many people. Anyone with even a passing interest in Michael Jackson should go and see it for some feelgood fun. Shamone!

Thriller Live runs at The Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 13 January.

Royal Concert Hall website

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