MICHAEL Jackson fans will be delighted at the jukebox of smash hits which take to the stage this week in Thriller Live, a tribute to the King of Pop himself.
The highly acclaimed show was established in 2006 and since then has completed several British tours and has been performed at the West End for seven years.
Transporting the audience through genre and time, the show rattles through Jackson Five classics such as I Want You Back, through to the height of Michael Jackson’s career with Eighties' hits Wanna Be Startin’ Something and Bad.
Uplifting and energetic, high points include sharp-suited and tightly choreographed performances in Smooth Criminal and Dangerous, where the performers' trademark Jackson leans, moonwalks and pelvic thrusts are met with cheers from the audience. This is complemented by vivid stage lighting and dramatic action that reflects Jackson’s infamous music videos.
The show is less of a tribute and more of a celebration of the American music phenomenon’s finest moments. Rather than attempting to replicate a narrative of his life, the vocalists who honour Jackson are diverse and unique in their approach, instead portraying multiple sides of the star. With Jackson seen as a trailblazer for defying racial and gender categorisation, this seems fitting for the show.
Billy Jean features Sean Christopher, who most resembles the music legend in looks. Sporting Jackson’s trademark black fedora hat, white sparkly glove, white ankle socks and black penny loafers, Christopher knits together Jackson’s flamboyant style and persona with plenty of clicks, kicks and hat adjustments.
Shaquille Hemmans introduces Man In The Mirror with all the clicking, "ahs" and articulation expected from the legend himself. In contrast, Angelica Allen’s rendition of The Way You Make Me Feel is a convincing and empowered solo performance, her soulful and gritty voice representing a new take on Jackson. Rory Taylor embraces the musician’s darker and rockier edge. Beat It and Dirty Diana feature impressive on-stage guitar solos and head-banging action.
Famous for his sequinned suits and red latex jackets, Jackson’s extravagant fashion tastes have been replicated on stage across the cast. From sparkly hooded unitards, to pinstripe flared trousers and neon bomber jackets, spectators can expect not only to be transported to the heyday of pop and funk music, but to gain a feeling of nostalgia for decades of past fashion trends too.
Slower numbers such as Who’s Loving You and I Just Can’t Stop Loving You feel slightly empty in a show which is otherwise packed with exhilarating choreography and impressive vocal talent. Despite some hesitation, vocalists manage to get the audience on their feet and join in with Shake Your Body. However, in Monday's finale there was no need for any encouragement as the audience clapped and boogeyed to the final frenzy featuring the highly anticipated Thriller.
Thriller Live, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york
Review by Rebecca Elmer