The music of Michael Jackson is very recognisable. No matter what your age you will have come across some of the greatest pop music ever written or a current artist that has been directly influenced by the “King of Pop”.
Thriller Live – currently rocking the house at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue celebrates this fact by taking its audiences on a journey through all of Jackson’s classic tracks. From the earliest hits of the Jackson 5 (complete with a young MJ), to the phenomenon of the “Thriller” album, all the way to his most recent smash-hits, there is a song for everyone in this energetic concert spectacular.
This is by no means a musical with characters telling Jackson’s life story – neither is it a story backed up by his songs. This is a celebration – with a cast including immensely talented vocalists, and some of the most skilled dancers I have ever seen paying tribute to some of the most iconic songs of the past 40 years.
Andrae Palmer – otherwise known as Mr Melody – lives up to his name and his stunning soulful voice lends itself perfectly to every style, from the Disco classic “Shake Your Body” to the modern anthems such as “They Don’t Care About Us”. His charisma also oozes out in his interaction with the audience, especially during the audience participation in “Dance and Shout”.
Haydon Eshun, who I remember from his days as the 9-year-old lead singer of boy band Ultimate Kaos, is full of such passion and amazing talent, it is difficult to take your eyes off him when he is on stage. He excels, as does Andrae, in every style of song he performs, but his solo performance of “Man in the Mirror” was just stunningly beautiful and completely enchanting and topped what was an absolutely phenomenal performance.
The beautiful Zoe Birkett rose to fame over 10 years ago on the original series of Pop Idol, where she finished fourth behind Will Young, Gareth Gates and Darius Danesh. She has gone on to forge a fantastic career for herself, including being a part of Thriller Tour in South America, and only recently returning to the London production. I can honestly say I was completely blown away by every aspect of her performance! She lights up the stage from start to finish and the fact that she can switch from the most enchanting powerhouse vocals to such energetic dance routines (which she performs in the highest of heels!) and back again, is just a sign of what an astounding talent this young lady is! Her experience with the show is also so clear to see – the nuances in her vocals and Jackson-esque dance moves are sheer perfection, and highlight that Birkett is the outstanding female lead that will open the doors of this fantastic show to a new legion of fans.
Birkett’s return has also coincided with the arrival of Ricardo Afonso to the show, in a role that is absolutely perfect for him! The former star of We Will Rock You and Top Hat, as well as BBC’s The Voice, shows that with such an amazing voice, he can actually sing just about anything! From the haunting beauty of “She’s Out of My Life” to the rock anthem “Dirty Diana” and the legendary “Beat It”, with full dance routine, Afonso commands the stage with tremendous skill, passion and presence. His performance shows why he deserves to be recognised as one of the most phenomenal male leads in the West End.
A special mention must also go to the dancers who bring such exuberance and energy – you feel absolutely exhausted just watching them! In particular, Liam Lawrence – who was taking a lead role for the first time on the day I was visiting and was just outstanding, and reinforces the strength in-depth that this show has.
Before my most recent visit, I had actually never seen this show before. Thriller had always been one I had walked past and thought “Oh that looks good!”, but I had never gone as far as to buy a ticket. After now seeing the show in all its exuberant glory, I regret not visiting sooner! My afternoon at the Lyric was full of joy, smiles, energy and many surprises (especially as I was sitting in the stalls!), and it is one I plan on experiencing again as soon as possible!
Review by Reviewed by Olivia Edmonds @TOABlueEyedGirl
Evenings: Tuesday to Friday, and Sunday 7.30pm
Matinees: Saturday 4.00pm and Sunday 3.30pm
Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Age Restrictions: Suitable for ages 8 and over.