Director and Choreographer: Gary Lloyd
Reviewer: Jess Rowe
Now in its seventh year running at London’s Lyric Theatre and on another UK Tour, there must be something special about the success of Thriller Live. In its simplest form, the show is a tribute concert celebrating the music and dance skill of the King of Pop. Although the show lacks any form of plot, it goes to town to emphasise the theatricality Michael Jackson’s work already holds.
The music is the distinguishing star of the production. The band, led by Mike Lindup, creates a pulsating and vibrant energy that allows Jackson’s music to remain timeless with a pleasant feel for audiences who have only heard the songs as records. Leading the show is a talented line-up of lead vocalists, one of which is Rory Taylor; finalist on ITV’s Superstar, whose internal ballad of She’s Out Of My Life creates a beautiful contrast to the large-scale spectacle of the rest of the evening. Stealing the show, however, is Ione Townsend with her effortless belting revealing the remarkable range of her vocals and confident stage presence running the production. While the vocals are of a high standard, the small talk made by the performers between songs cheapens the overall professionalism of the piece as the rehearsed script is cheesy and spoils the party atmosphere.
In terms of dance, Gary Lloyd’s choreography that combines some of Michael Jackson’s renowned dance moves with modern street dance stylised physical theatre. The spotless portrayal by the ensemble is accompanied by additional musical arrangements, remixing famous tracks to be interpreted in a similar style to the dance group Diversity- keeping the show fresh.
The creative team sums up its West End standard. Featuring visual pre-recorded projections ranging from abstract atoms to smashing glass, even a virtual representation of the King himself, creates a modern technical era to his music appealing to a younger generation. The endless pyrotechnics enhances the excitement alongside the haze that is arguably used inappropriately at times when less seemed definitely more effective. It continues to wow audiences with an overwhelming variety of costumes through the first act of the production taking the audience on a journey through the evolution of music and Jackson causing a rather nostalgic feel. Lighting designer Nigel Catmur brings out the vitality of these costumes as well as hitting the audience with a disco-like atmosphere urging them to dance along to every song.
Thriller Live brings an evening to celebrate the music, the legacy and ultimately the legend, however, the possibilities for technical theatre and the upcoming stars of this production cannot be ignored on the final applause.
Runs until 16 July 2016 as part of a UK tour | Image: Contributed