Theatre Review: THRILLER LIVE – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Loud and lively, THRILLER LIVE is an electrifying visual and audio journey through Michael Jackson’s 45 year musical history

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

Seen by over four million people in over 30 countries, it’s fair to say that THRILLER LIVE is a crowd-pleaser. Now in its record-breaking ninth year in London’s West End, the musical extravaganza continues to draw big crowds and – much like Michael Jackson’s legacy – is showing no signs of slowing down.

Celebrating the life and career of Michael Jackson, THRILLER LIVE is an electrifying visual and audio journey through Jackson’s 45 year musical history. The two hour show features non-stop hits from the King of Pop including I Want You Back, ABC, Can You Feel It, Off the Wall, Beat It, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Bad, Heal the World and Thriller, all performed live by the talented cast and on-stage band.

Its worth pointing out at this stage that THRILLER LIVE is not an imitation act. If anything, this is a show that thrives on diversity with six different vocalists, both male and female, adding their own MJ touch to the songs. What it is, however, is a high energy show. From the LED laden set, to the colourful costume designs, every inch of THRILLER LIVE is loud, bright and lively. There is a fun, party-like atmosphere among the cast which drives the general feel of the show and the sensational dancers keep the temperature high with the sharp and punchy dance routines.

Those who have seen the show before may notice a few subtle changes to the format including the introduction of several new songs such as the 1972 classic Rockin’ Robin and the 1991 R&B hit Remember The Time, as well as some extra ¬choreography and a revamped opening.

Yet for all its flair, passion and precision, the biggest problem with THRILLER LIVE is that it’s not really clear where the show fits. Sitting somewhere in between a jukebox musical, a tribute show, a concert and a living memorial, THRILLER LIVE certainly entertains but ultimately lacks substance. The constant succession of song and dance numbers gives the show a distinct cabaret feel while the intermittent audience participation feels a little panto-esque.

That said, the music and dance numbers are strong with Choreographer Gary Lloyd perfectly capturing Jackson’s iconic dance moves including the moonwalk, the crotch-thrust and the robot. The vocalists are also strong with Rory Taylor and Adriana Louise in particular standing out for their unique take on She’s Out Of My Life and The Way You Make Me Feel respectively.

3.5 out of 5 stars

THRILLER LIVE runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 24 February 2018.

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