I’m going to start this off with a confession; I actually didn’t identify as a Michael Jackson fan before I saw Adrian Grant and Gary Lloyd’s Thriller Live at Norwich Theatre Royal. Since watching it last night however, I feel like his songs have become a kind of mental soundtrack to my life. I fell asleep with ‘Man in the Mirror’ playing in my head, and I cycled into university this morning to my own pedal powered internal rendition of ‘Black or White.’ I’m listening to ‘Dirty Diana’ as I write this… and despite my failed attempts on the way home from the performance, I truly believe that 2017 could be the year I learn and master the moonwalk. The cast, who are currently continuing their West End run on a world tour, celebrated Jackson’s work with an energy that truly was infectious and certain to leave even the most skeptical with an appreciation of ‘The King of Pop.’
Highlights of the show included ‘Thriller’ itself, one of the closing numbers, in which the costumes were spectacular, if a little creepy! Dancers came dressed as ragged zombies from behind the audience, and the stage was filled with masses of green smoke against a graveyard backdrop. The effect of this was immersive, and it made a great contrast to the still fabulous glitter and flares (and glittery flares!) of the earlier disco scenes. Another favourite was ‘Rockin’ Robin,’ one of the first songs performed as part of an exploration of Jackson’s Motown days, for which the costumes were again indescribably glorious. The live band and intensely dramatic lighting carried each act to a new level, and the whole show was aesthetically and audibly very impressive.
It would be impossible to review this production, however, without admitting how undeniably cheesy it was. At many points it felt distinctly pantomime-esque, as scarily enthusiastic lead vocalists Britt Quentin and Shaquille Maerice Hemmans brought the entire audience up out of their seats and proceeded to split it in two; before commencing the most uncoordinated arm waving/clapping/singing battle I have ever seen. Somehow though, this just made the whole evening more entertaining and everybody from toddler to pensioner seemed to have a fantastic time. Tickets left for this week are already limited, so if you’re ready to embrace a crowd full of dad dancers, glittery gloves, and better voices than you could have hoped to hear, I’d recommend moon walking on down to the box office now.
Prior to the performance, young members of the dance group Legacy enjoyed an afternoon at The Garage with the shows performers (pictured above). They were wowed by the moves of Sean Christopher, the shows dance captain, before being given some moon-walking tips. The boys questions were answered by Britt Quentin and Vicky Pasion, the shows lead vocalists. Britt hopes that the boys “come away with some inspiration from us and the show, because that’s what happened to me when I was their age, I was inspired by other people and other shows.”
Thriller: Live will be at Norwich Theatre Royal Feb 13-18