Jam-packed with Michael Jackson hits, this is a show in which you are expected to enjoy the singing and dancing – but not to learn anything about the man himself.
Opening with ‘History’ and closing with ‘Can You Feel it’, the first act takes audience’s through Jackson’s early years with a few references to where he was born and upbringing, before focusing on the disco and motown style of tracks of ‘I Want you Back’ and ‘Blame it on the Boogie’.
While the dance routines are brilliant and in keeping with the style of Jackson’s own sense of style, choreographed to perfection by choreographer and director Gary Lloyd, the show itself (particularly in the first act) feels strained and awkward. For example, during the ‘Shake Your Body’ routine, the audience are encouraged to get up and dance along (not that much persuasion was required) – but the build up just feels as though it is trying too hard.
But the fantastic vocal and dance performances are part of the major key for the production to work and thankfully there is nothing disappointing on this point. Shanice Steele as the lead female singer literally puts her heart and soul into every performance vocally, adding a different perspective to songs that are normally associated with a male vocalist, while Rory Taylor is equally impressive in numbers such as ‘Dirty Diana’- performing with such rawness and accuracy that is hard to match.
While all of the dancers were equally sharp and really showed a great understanding of Michael Jackson’s style, it was Eddy Lima as MJ himself that really allowed the audience to feel as though the king of pop was with us once more – particularly during numbers such as ‘Thriller’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’.
The second act is particularly strong in comparison to the first act, because it certainly has a more edgier vibe about it in terms of the songs and the choreography that can be electrifying to watch. Numbers such as ‘Beat it’ and ‘Black or White’ really stand out.
However, as good as the performances are, the show itself just feels awkward and doesn’t feel as though it flows as coherently as it should, which is a shame because with this high quality in terms of the cast and music, it feels as though Michael Jackson deserves something slightly better than the concept of the show that is delivered.
But, it has to be said that perhaps it is a show that has lasted so long in the West End and done well on tour because it is a chance to hear Michael Jackson’s music as it deserves to be heard – live and through delightful entertainment. Even though it isn’t going to be this writer’s favourite show, it will certainly still thrill the Michael Jackson fans.
Thriller Live is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until the 7th May, before continuing on its UK tour. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.flyingmusic.com/our-shows/thriller-live/tickets/.