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Musical theatre review: Thriller Live

Thriller Live opened on the West End on January 2nd, 2009, at the Lyric Theatre. I went to see the evening performance on January 7th. In my time I've seen a lot of West End productions, plus I've also studied Drama and Theatre Arts - I know what to look for when I see a show. Usually though, I don't look for anything because it's on the West End. It's supposed to be, along with Broadway, the highest quality level of performance in the English-speaking world. I'm supposed to just enjoy myself.

The very first song - the very first line, in fact - was off-key. Ouch. It could have been nerves, but nerves aren't what people pay for because the top-price seats we had in the stalls cost £50.50 each. In fact, when the third song was also off-key, some people actually got up and walked out - in all my years of theatre-going, I have never seen that before.

After that, I couldn't help but notice other mistakes. One of the dancers actually stumbled forward on landing - it would have been less obvious/noticeable if she hadn't then turned around to glare at one of the other dancers. One of them lost a shoe. One of the belts came undone. At times, they weren't hitting their marks - they weren't staggering the stage properly - so the audience couldn't see all three "tiers" of performers since they were blocking the back performers. And the left and right mid-rigged lights were far too bright. For the West End, it just wasn't up to standard.

It's also a show with no story, just performances of Michael Jackson's songs (and the Jackson 5's), interspersed with some facts about MJ. Don't get me wrong though, the show wasn't all doom and gloom, and it did have some positives:
  • I loved the effects and dancing for Thriller
  • Dirty Diana was fab, too
  • The band were brilliant
  • All MJ's signature moves and high-pitched "woo-hoo" noises were perfectly imitated (although the crotch-grabbing and thrusting became a little too much!)
  • Denise Pearson was by far the best Michael Jackson with the best voice
  • Fabbity costumes.
I did enjoy it, but it didn't thrill me. In fact, if I wasn't lucky enough to go to the West End as much as I do, I would have been very disappointed, especially for the cost. I didn't get the feeling I usually get with musicals - the feeling of over-whelming exhilaration (explained here), which I did get that the next day with Billy Elliot (amazing).

My verdict? There are definitely better things to see on the West End than Thriller: Live. Go and see them instead.

7 comments:

  1. I COULDN'T AGREE MORE ,MY EXPERIANCE WAS IDENTICAL .I TOOK MY 10YR OLD SON TO SEE IT ON SATURDAY ,HES A BIG FAN.I TOO LOVE HIS MUSIC.I WAS SO DISSAPOINTED ,I FELT THE WHOLE PRODUCTON WAS VERY AMATEUR !DENISE PEARSON IS CLEARLY TALENTED ,BUT FEMALE !!!VERY ODD AS WAS THE AGAIN...VERY TALENTED WHITE GUY .A FEMALE ,TWO BLACK GUYS AND A WHITE GUY ALL PLAY THE PART OF MJ ....CONFUSING TO SAY THE LEAST .GIVE IT A MISS, BUY HIS ALBUM INSTEAD .

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  2. I also found it very odd that the best Michael was a woman and that there were five of them! It's booking up to April, but I doubt the run will be extended.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  3. OMG! I'm so glad I wasn't the only one completely disappointed with Thriller Live. I feel as though I have just wasted 2 hours of my life...not amused.

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  4. I think what you saw was a preview. The show opened last night and was just fantastic....sure it's not musical theatre but leave your brain at the door and enjoy the ride. i loved it!

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  5. From what I've read of other people's experiences, not many seem to be impressed - it's not good enough for the West End, whether it's on preview or not.

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  6. I have to admit that, as a massive fan of Denise Pearson, I'm biased - but I LOVED the show. Sure, it's not like Wicked, with an actual story or acting, but it's a solid musical tribute. Yes, one of the boys has stood down as his voice wasn't up to scratch. However, I saw the show on the 2nd, and again on the 21st, and the difference is amazing - the whole theatre went beserk with applause on more than one occassion.

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  7. It's been extended until September, so they must be doing something right! Personally, I thought it was brilliant (apart from deifying MJ in a rather unsettling way) - and Denise Pearson spectacular (as a big fan of hers, I expected nothing less, anyway).

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