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Thriller Live

Michael Jackson is the undisputed king of pop. He played Milton Keynes Bowl during the 1980’s at the height of his fame and his music now returns to Milton Keynes in Thriller Live for a week at Milton Keynes Theatre.

To design a show using the hits of Michael Jackson is a mammoth task. What songs do you use and what songs should you leave out? Honestly the amount of work that Michael has produced means we could have a full weekend show of his music but alas we need to put it into a small two hours and make it accessible to everyone. But don’t worry as this show does not disappoint.

The show opens to History, with a good use of big screens. The vocalists then say hello and start to talk about Michael’s early days; hits such as I’ll be there, I want you back, ABC and of course Rockin’ Robin. The dance number in Rockin’ Robin was very reminiscent of Pan’s People from Top of the Pops and they even have flares on! We then move on to more disco numbers including Blame it on the Boogie and Don’t stop ‘til you get enough.

Each song is magical in its own right and if you are familiar with Michael Jackson videos you will understand some of the references in the show. For example, Remember the time is a fantastic journey amongst the Egyptians. Some of the ballads were sung so beautifully, such as She’s out of my life andHuman Nature. We move onto disco and studio 54. Each song has some amazing dance sequences and a theme. There are an awful lot of costume changes. Can you feel it? has the background of the video using colours and the screens to full visual effect and it looks and feels amazing.

Grab yourself a drink during the interval because its guaranteed you will still be dancing throughout the second half if you haven’t already been out of your seat. It starts with Wanna Be Startin’ Somethingfollowed by Beat It. Great numbers executed brilliantly.

Smooth Criminal takes your breath away. The use of wardrobe, colour, dance steps and lighting really all comes together to make this an amazing adventure of prohibition during the 1920’s. You can almost feel you are in a Michael Jackson video yourself!

There is discussion on if Thriller or Bad is his best album and we continue with Dirty Diana and Man in the Mirror. If you have forgotten just how much good music Michael Jackson produced this show will definitely remind you. Each number is fabulously danced and delivered to the audience.

Earth song is extremely moving, showing us on the screen photos of people who really cared about the planet such as Martin Luther-King, John Lennon, Mother Teresa and finally an image of Michael Jacksoncomes up. It really does bring a tear to your eye. But we quickly move on and Billie Jean is a dance number that you cannot sit down to. So get up and dance! Then of course we get to Thriller. It stays true to the video and was perfectly performed. And don’t forget Bad which also means another quick change of clothes.

This show is not trying to have someone being Michael Jackson. To do that would be setting itself up to fail. What this show offers is a lovingly reproduction of his work, each carefully thought about and performed to perfection. There are five lead vocalists, all of whom deliver with warmth and charm. Under the leadership of Mike Lindup’s musical direction, Ione Townsend, Sean Christopher, Shaquille Hemmans, Adam J Bernard and Tyrone Lee give a huge vocal range, delivering each number exquisitely. The dancers not only give some great steps but give us a huge feel of how danceable the MJ songs are. I wager you will able dancing at the end of this show.

Even if you have forgotten how great MJ songs were, this show takes you on a journey of his greatest body of work, giving us a range of emotions and getting us out of our seats. It’s a show and a work out in one! You cannot miss this show.

4.5 stars

This was originally published for About Milton Keynes website.

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