Thriller Live Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 29 February 2016

I approached this show with no idea  what it was – a musical? A concert? A tribute act?  But after seeing this in Darlington I can tell you it is spectacular.

Essentially a greatest hits album on stage; with the songs performed by a number of ‘Jackos’, of different genders, ages and races.  Sean Christopher, Shaquille Hemmans, Angelica Allen, Micheal Kavuma and Rory Taylor were all vocally outstanding, giving some amazing versions of Jackson’s songs. The production starts with the early sounds of Jackson 5 before giving us the best of his solo material, including the Thriller and Bad albums.

Sean Christopher embodied the spirit of Jackson best of all and was able to perfectly replicate Jackson’s mannerisms, including the famous moonwalk, incredibly well. Rory Taylor also impressed during the slower and more soulful numbers, giving a hauntingly beautiful version of “She’s Out of my Life”

The dancing, it has to be said, outshone the vocals, accomplished as they were, but let’s face it, Michael was all about the dancing, and it was mesmerisingly good throughout.

Thriller was predictably spectacular, with apparently boneless dancers, so fluid were their moves, arising from the graveyard, with the cast getting the audience up several times throughout the show too.

Thriller Live is all about the music, but that doesn’t mean that the entertainment factor which made MJ one of the greatest ever live entertainers has been left to one side and each part of the production combines perfectly to create an night to remember.

The brilliant band (Mike Lindup, Rob Minns, Allan Salmon, Jo Phillpotts, Davide Giovanni and Tom Arnold) mixed rock, soul and pop and provided emphatic musical support. It was fantastic to see them in vision during some of the show’s epic guitar solos.

The staging was clever and vibrant, supported by some excellent lighting and pyrotechnics. A screen at the back of the stage is used for some clever effects and works neatly in tandem with the choreography.  The set is stripped back, with just two sets of steps and a raised catwalk the only permanent fixture, but it is used unbelievably well by the performers, while every piece of additional set, alongside the props, are tailored to bring that extra hint of nostalgia to each song.

The screens are used sparingly, but effectively, notably creating a thoughtful backdrop throughout a segment featuring Man In The Mirror, They Don’t Care Abut Us and Earth Song.

It is technical perfection, with the lights, the sound, the pyro’s and the staging all outstanding.  Whoever is the DSM for this show is worth their wait in gold as this is a very technical show and it was performed seamlessly

Nothing about this show is cheap.  Its a lavish celebration of the life and songs of the King of Pop and its a wonderful night out

In Darlington until Saturday 5 March and on tour around the UK

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