‘This off the wall experience is hard to beat’: THRILLER LIVE – Touring ★★★★

In Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland, Touring by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

Touring – reviewed at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Guest reviewer: C.C. George

The undeniable talent of the controversial Michael Jackson is fully on display in Thriller Live, an energetic and thoroughly exciting showcase of his greatest hits.

Returning to the Festival Theatre for the umpteenth time, the show is now in its 10th year and the reason for its longevity is clear. Jam-packed with MJ’s hits spanning 45 years, this concert is a fitting tribute to an iconic musical figure. But a series of songs churned out one after another this is not.

This is so much more and more again. It comes as no surprise that director and choreographer Gary Lloyd and producers Paul Walden and Derek Nicol have worked with some of the world’s biggest rock bands as this show would not be lost in an arena. It’s got everything thrown at it from flag-waving to pyrotechnics but they never distract from the magic of the music.

It is a chronological journey through Jackson’s musical catalogue, starting with his Motown and Disco days in the first half and a battle between the Thriller and Bad albums in the second. Six excellent singers share the job of delivering these well-known melodies, but one singer has the additional task of impersonating Michael Jackson himself. Eddy Lima has Jackson’s movements and mannerisms down perfectly and his singing is so accurate – and unaffected by his flawless dancing – that it is hard to believe he isn’t miming. Watching Eddy don the iconic white suit and hat for the ‘Smooth Criminal’ sequence is like watching Michael come to life again.

Individually the singers are all wonderful. Rory Taylor’s vocals in ‘She’s Out of My Life’ particularly stand out and Adriana Louise pulls ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ up out of a bit of a dip in the second act. Shaquille Hemman’s sass and velvet tones add something special to any number he is in. The singers also narrate and provide some facts about Jackson’s musical journey throughout the show. The delivery is embarrassingly cheesy (Britt Quentin I’m looking at you) but actually very interesting so they just about get away with it.

A scene from Thriller Live

Fans of audience participation will be in their element. There’s no getting away from singing and dancing along – in fact it’s obligatory. This is tricky in theatres and can often be awkward, however this show is so high-energy from very beginning that it’s a welcome opportunity to be part of the action.

The on-stage band are simply outstanding. When you think of Beat It, it’s hard not to think of that shredding Eddie Van Halen guitar solo and Thriller Live does not disappoint. The moment is delivered in full by the sensational Allan Salmon right from the front of the stage.

Lighting Designer Nigel Catmur and The Twins FX visual special effects team have created an extravaganza for the eyes. The colours and graphics add to the spectacle but do not distract from the singing and stunning choreography. It doesn’t always hit the mark however.

frankly gratuitous

The mood for Michael’s ‘political’ period leading into They Don’t Care About Us is created with a series of black and white images of iconic peace-promoting figures such a Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. Ending on a picture of Michael himself. This is frankly gratuitous and ridiculous. Thankfully the transition into Earth Song redeems this with it’s more subtle graphics and gorgeous harmonies.

Featuring all the moments you would want to see as a Michael Jackson fan and more besides, this off the wall experience is hard to beat. It will have you dancing in the aisles and awkwardly attempting to moon walk back to the car park.

Running time: 2 hours 30 mins (including 20 minute interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT. Phone booking: 0131 529 6000
Monday 14 – Saturday 19 May 2018
Evenings 7.30pm (Sat 8pm) | Matinee Sat 4pm.
Tickets and details:  http://www.capitaltheatres.com/thriller.

Show website: http://thrillerlive.com/
Facebook: @thrillerlive
Twitter: @ThrillerLive

Thriller LIVE on tour 2018:

14 – 19 May 2018
Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000
Book online

21 – 26 May 2018
Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648
Book online

28 May – 2 Jun 2018
Darlington
Civic Theatre
01325 486555
Book online

4 – 9 Jun 2018
Southend on Sea
Cliffs Pavilioin
01702 351135
Book online

11 – 16 Jun 2018
Plymouth
Theatre Royal
01752 230440
Book online

18 – 23 Jun 2018
Bournemouth
Pavilion Theatre
0844 576 3000
Book online

26 – 30 Jun 2018
Liverpool
Empire
08448 713 017
Book online

2 – 7 Jul 2018
Woking
New Victoria
0844 871 7645
Book online

9 – 14 Jul 2018
Bristol
Hippodrome
0844 871 3012
Book online

16 – 21 Jul 2018
Sheffield
Lyceum Theatre
0114 249 6000
Book online

23 – 28 Jul 2018
Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889
Book online

20 – 22 Sep 2018
Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020
Book online

27 – 29 Sep 2018
Torquay
Princess Theatre
0844 871 3023
Book online

22 – 27 Oct 2018
Cheltenham
Everyman Theatre
01242 572573
Book online

Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. In addition to his personal account, he tweets @AllEdinTheatre.
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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. In addition to his personal account, he tweets @AllEdinTheatre.