Thriller Live 2014 Australian Tour Review

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Special guest contributor, Q.


Review provided by special guest contributor,
Q, from Perth, Australia.

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the travelling stage show Thriller LIVE this afternoon in Perth’s Crown Theatre. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’d avoided researching any videos of past performances, but had seen some of the promo interviews and performances featuring some of the lead cast.

Thriller LIVE made it’s first preview performance back in August 2006, and began touring the UK and Europe in 2007. The London West End version began in January 2009. Thriller LIVE has also played throughout Asia, and now finally makes it to Australia and New Zealand in 2014.

I was worried this would be an impersonator show, which, as a huge Michael Jackson fan of 20+ years who was lucky enough to have actually witnessed Michael Jackson live (and his incredible brothers and sister Janet) in concert on more than one occasion, has not been something to interest me greatly. And although a few numbers in this quality production do feature someone dressed, dancing and singing the part of Michael – these tracks are far in the minority. And judging from the crowds reaction to Sean Christopher in this role, he certainly did well enough. After all – those shiny loafers are HUGE shoes to fill.

But for me, the highlights were the ensemble numbers. When the supreme vocals of Michael were shared amongst a number of the leads. Opening with HIStory, I immediately choked up (and this wasn’t the only time). From the simple visuals on the LED screens to the inspirational words sung, I was moved. Our other leads of Alex Buchanan, J Rome, MiG Ayesa, Tyrone Lee and Samantha Johnson were incredible together, and with Sean and the other backup signers, sharing the heavy load of Jackson’s talent with class and passion, and creating some breathtaking harmonies along the way. These group moments for me were the strength of the show. A true tribute.

The leads also shared hosting duties, telling us not only about the history of Michael and his brothers musical achievements, but also reminding us of his impact on today’s entertainers, and his message of love, peace, unity and world betterment. Samantha – your ‘Hands Up’ in “They Don’t Care About Us” and “Earth Song” was fitting and powerful (and something that could be acknowledged in the show with screen graphics of #handsupdontshoot #blacklivesmatter and #theydontcareaboutus. Michael was a musical prophet after all, never shying away from highlighting social injustice).

Songs and singers were introduced, vocal credits given, reminding us that this was not a Michael Jackson show, but this was a showcase. I really enjoyed those moments when the fourth wall was broken, and there was also many opportunities were they involved the audience in ‘shout offs’ and enough ‘clap/raise your hands!’ moments to send my hands red raw. The audience were on their feet when asked to, and the show ended with everyone standing and dancing for the last 3 songs.

The LED screens and graphics were very effective and well used, complimenting the simple yet brilliant lighting with era specific imagery, and some simple yet very entertaining effects. That disco ball and basketball were great fun! Costumes were fantastic and well used, of course there has to be the obligatory “Smooth Criminal” suit, the “Thriller” outfit and classic “Billie Jean” ensemble, but from the ’60s, the ’70s disco era was smartly represented, street wear and zippers didn’t disappoint, and enough brocade and beautiful sparkling tailored jackets to do Michael’s own stage costumes more than proud.

Dancing of course plays a huge part in the show, and I was not disappointed. Many of the famous routines are brought to life, but often with personalised flair. The cast is not small, and the stage is often alive with choreography on multiple levels. And these are great dancers, with plenty of fun and humour in the mix. Terrific entertainment.

The band played live the entire show, and were fantastic. From the haunting piano of “Earth Song,” to the ripping guitar work of “Beat It” and “Dirty Diana,” the band was certainly brought the soul of Michael’s huge catalogue to this stage show. Those riffs will resonate for quite a while yet!

In closing, I would love to single out performers with special mentions, but there honestly I would have so many that I would be here for hours. The entire cast and crew should feel very proud. I could see a few of them taking moments on stage for the man who inspired us all. There were vocal highlights from all the leads, and dance highlights from all the dancers. Your talents and strengths did not go unnoticed nor unappreciated. This was not an impersonator show, and far more than a tribute show. No one will ever come close to the stratospheric standards Michael Jackson set, and this never claims to attempt that. Thriller LIVE is a showcase of Michael Jackson’s music and legacy, a fun celebration and a show I’ll remember for a long time. I loved it. Well done.

Click here to follow Q’s personal Twitter. Also check out The MJ Cast – a fantastic Michael Jackson podcast co-hosted by Q – by visiting themjcast.com, liking their Facebook Page, and following them on Twitter.

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