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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Thriller Live

The Liverpool Empire
11th – 16th April 2011

Author: Adrian Grant
Director: Gary Lloyd
Producers: Paul Walden & Derek Nicol
Cast Includes: Reece McConnell, Hayley Evetts, Ian Pitter, Nathan James, Dwayne Wint and Sean Christopher.

 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat promotional poster

 

Thriller Live is definitely the ‘song and dance spectacular’ it claims to be. It takes us through Michael Jackson’s hits from his earliest days with The Jackson 5 to the biggest hits from his albums Thriller and Bad. It relives 32 of his most famous songs and combined with incredible dance routines and dazzling costumes this production will have you dancing in the aisles. Whether you’re the No 1 Michael Jackson fan or you just quite like his music it’s guaranteed to get you moving.

The show’s opening song ‘Jam’ felt like an unusual choice and despite its history as the opening song for Michael’s ‘Dangerous’ tour in 1992 it just didn’t quite work. Even with brilliant costumes, visual effects and the live band it felt lacklustre and failed to pack a punch that you expect from an opening number. Happily though this is not a reflection on the rest of the performance and with the opening bars of ABC the faltering start is forgotten. The live band is fantastic and the whole show really beings to gain an energy that makes it feel like a live concert instead of a stage show.

Six singers play the part of Michael beginning with Reece McConnell who performs the songs of the youngest member of The Jackson 5. He seems utterly at home and comfortable on the stage and this spills over into his singing. Nathan James, another of the six lead vocalists, is Thriller’s secret weapon. His vocal range and the power of his voice put him in the same category as Mariah Carey. He attacks each song with such passion and energy that the cheering from the audience only just fades before the next song begins. Hayley Evetts the third singer who, prior to her stunning performance was known for being a former Pop Idol finalist, proved why she’s on the stage - her voice didn’t falter once in the entire two and a half hour show. Dwayne Wint hits every high note while still managing to dance his way through every track, which is an amazing achievement considering the incredibly complex choreography and energy of the routines. Sean Christopher seems to almost be the reincarnation of the man himself as he glides across the stage, moon walking, dancing or singing. Sean is probably as close to the real thing as you will ever get to see. Ian Pitter as the narrator and lead vocalists has a tough job as his role as the narrator is an unusual one. Due to the fact that the performance is laid out in chronological order and doesn’t really have a story line since the focus is the music, it seems superfluous to have a narrator. In fact the narrator’s role actually interferes with the flow of the performance. This is by no means due to Ian Pitter as his voice is excellent and all of his songs have an energy that is tangible but simply due to the role itself being un-necessary. 

The whole performance has a glamour and Hollywood shine to it, thanks to some amazing visual effects that transform the stage from a dance floor with giant disco ball to a street scene - the sheer scale and energy of this performance makes it unforgettable. You are drawn into a whirl wind of music, dancing and storytelling that leaves you in awe of how much incredible music one man managed to fit into a career that ended so prematurely. It also leaves you wondering just what his ‘This is it’ tour would have been like, because if you liked the man or just admired his music he undeniably had a talent for entertaining and creating iconic music. It’s almost impossible not to dance and sing your way through the evening as the music seems almost contagious and the atmosphere is alive with excitement. A truly entertaining evening for all ages as his music seems to have captured the attention and admiration of over five generations.

Nina Lloyd Jones

 

 

Click here to view details and book for the Liverpool Empire Theatre
www.liverpoolempire.org.uk


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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