When Thriller Live arrived at the Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue exactly six years ago today, I thought it felt very much like a filler that would be there for a few months but then move on. Instead, of course, it was Michael Jackson who moved on himself to the great pop arena in the sky, and the show became a sort of living memorial to him. In the days following his death, the theatre became a shrine with fans coming there to post tributes. (There’s now a permanent one in the foyer).
The opening night of Thriller Live on January 22, 2009 (left to right) Musical Director John Maher, creator Adrian Grant, Tito Jackson and Director/Choreographer Gary Lloyd
The show recently became the 20th longest running musical in the history of the West End, and is about to move more positions up: this coming Sunday (January 25), it overtakes Grease; and then in April, it will overtake the original 1960 production of Oliver! to take 18th position.
I don’t think it pays to be snobbish about shows like this — the West End should have room for all sorts of shows (yes, even Let It Be — about which I once wrote, “Let it Be? Let it Not”; but I draw the line at Rock of Ages, which I think is the anti-Christ of musicals). But I’m only saddened by the fact that it has taken one of Shaftesbury Avenue’s loveliest playhouses out of circulation for so long.
If only they could move it to the Trafalgar Studios, I’d never have to go there again….