Thriller Live, a jukebox show featuring the music of Michael Jackson, closes in April 2020 but not before becoming the 12th longest running musical in the West End. Currently starring Peter Andre in a limited season until the 22nd December, it bursts from the stage from the opening chord to the final bow.
From Andre’s first entrance it’s clear that his considerable talent has been wasted elsewhere for some time. In this show we get to see what a highly skilled dancer and singer he really is. He is a charismatic performer and gives the role his all, much to the delight of a full auditorium. It’s hard to overstate just how impressive he is.
In the numbers in which live vocals are used, all of the lead performers are fantastic. David Julien makes She’s Out Of My Life an unexpectedly touching moment. He acts the song so well that a hush descends in the theatre – no mean feat with such a high-spirited audience in the house! In tonight’s show child performer Ishaan Raithatha plays young Michael Jackson. His vocals, dance skill and stage presence make it hard to believe that this is his West End debut – he seems like an old pro on stage. He tackles the tricky Jackson 5 material with ease and a beaming smile.
Even though the standard of all the vocalists is extremely high, the night belongs to the dancers. Florivaldo Mossi has the look and all of the moves of Jackson; at times during routines the resemblance is uncanny. He is matched by an exceptionally talented ensemble who perform, director and choreographer, Gary Lloyd’s routines with ferocity, precision and style. There is not one moment where their energy drops. What really makes this show is that every dancer is a performer – the moves aren’t just executed but driven by character. This ensures that we never bore of the numerous routines. This is also helped by Lloyd’s dynamic choreography – it would be easy in a show like this for it to become very repetitive but he has a flair for keeping it fresh.
Costumes by Shooting Flowers are varied and bring each era of Jackson’s music to life. Those used in the Thriller routine itself make the iconic music video appear onstage before the audience’s eyes.
The pace of the show barely lets up with lighting design by Nigel Catmur and set design by Jonathan Park creating an exhilarating concert feel throughout. The only thing that slows the show is the awkward feeling and sporadic narration - it particularly jars with the explosive opening sequence. I wonder if the screens could have been utilised to help narrate the action instead?
I must mention the Front of House staff at the Lyric Theatre who have to be some of the most harassed in the West End. A noticeable few of the audience were disruptive (singing very loudly all the way through, repeatedly standing up to dance, etc) and I can’t imagine how stressed out the staff must have been having to police the situation. I do feel that the theatre should announce at the beginning of the show some additional rules to try to prevent this from happening.
Although it has no storyline as a traditional musical would, Thriller Live certainly holds its own in the West End and will leave a big gap of fierce energy when it goes. If you’re a fan of Michael Jackson’s music and moves, make sure you see it before it finishes on the 26 th April 2020 – and if you can catch the 'smooth criminally' underrated Andre in it before the 22nd December, even better.
Tiffany Clark @tifflouclark
Thriller Live is on at the Lyric Theatre in London until April 2020.
Tickets are available here -