Last night (Wednesday 12th September 2018) was a special celebration to mark the 4,000 production of Thriller Live at the Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue. In Michael’s spirit of caring and giving, all net proceeds from the performance were donated to The Princes Trust, specifically to support young people. And an extra sparkle of glamour was added to the occasion as Peter Andre made a guest appearance. It was a sell-out, the show rocked and the audience were thrilled. A wonderful occasion which I felt privileged to be a part of.
Thriller Live is not just a show about Michael Jackson’s album Thriller, it is, in fact, a record of his journey from the Jackson 5 to worldwide stardom as the King of Pop. To present his unprecedented achievements Thriller Live requires no less than 4 vocalists to capture Michael’s vocal range, a separate artist (Kieran Alleyne) to reprise his ground-breaking dance repertoire – including three original coinings, the moonwalk, body-popping and the robot dance – and a ten-piece orchestra. As if this were not enough there is also a dance ensemble numbering ten of the most talented dancers around.
Bringing Michael back to life as a 12-year-old with the Jackson 5 the unbelievably talented Xhanti Mbonzongwana brought the house down with his pitch-perfect rendering of I’ll Be There, I Want You Back, ABC and Rockin’ Robin. Dressed in striped flares and a tank top, Xhanti had all the moves off to a T. As he shuffled and span around, clicking his fingers and pointing to members of the audience it brought back memories of the young Michael and sent a tingle down my spine. Michael’s legacy is safe in the hands of such a talented performer as Xhanti Mbonzongwana.
The show covers 33 of Michael’s greatest hits and I can’t possibly name check them all. Great dance numbers such as Blame it on the Boogie, Shake Your Body and Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough, Beat It etc are powerfully sung by Vivienne Ekwulugo, Haydon Eshun, Wayne Anthony-Cole and David Julien each picking up and following on so that the momentum and intensity never drops, in fact, they don’t stop until we get enough! All of the vocalists are excellent but I want to highlight Vivienne Ekwulugo because for me she is the beating heart of this show. Her stage presence is electric and in Michael’s trademark glitteringly gold jumpsuit she captures that androgynous look that was surely part of Michael’s universal appeal?
The great Stephen Sondheim has always insisted that for a show to be a great musical it must have, as it were, a song that is the equivalent of Some Enchanted Evening. Well, last night Peter Andre gave us such a magical moment with his rendition of She’s Out Of My Life. He was absolutely spellbinding. His charisma, body language and superb vocals had the audience mesmerised. His pause just before delivering the last line was sublime.
Most people remember Michael as an entertainer but he was more than that. He was a campaigner for humanity, social justice and the protection of our precious planet. This was poignantly and powerfully brought home in Earth Song. A projection of the earth as seen from space was displayed on stage. The combination of song and image is compelling. Everyone in the audience was up and singing along to his anthem for social justice They Don’t Care About Us. All I wanna say is Michael really did care about us.
Review by Jophn O’Brien
Peter Andre, Russell Kane, Jon Culshaw & Kieran Alleyne join the cast of Thriller Live in a glittering Gala Charity Performance on Wednesday 12th September, 2018 in aid of The Prince’s Trust and to celebrate a record-breaking 4,000 West End shows at the Lyric Theatre.
For one night only and to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust, special guest stars from the world of music and entertainment will host the evening and perform Michael Jackson tracks alongside the West End cast for this very exciting gala charity performance.
It promises to be a truly unforgettable night!
All proceeds from tickets sales will be donated to The Prince’s Trust and the gala night will launch a year-long partnership and commitment to provide tickets, workshops and a mentoring programme.