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THRILLER LIVE - Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Louise Winter on 5th Jul 2016 | View all blogs by Louise Winter

Reviewed by Louise Winter 4th July 2016

Thriller LIVE poster

A BRILLIANT show with a very young, extremely talented, and supremely professional cast.  

I was dubious. I’m not a great Michael Jackson fan and I’m not a fan of the ‘jukebox musicals’ that have filled theatres of late, many of which are variable in quality to say the least. I guess I felt Jackson’s image and credibility had gradually been eroded by the bizarre and damaging tales of his behaviour that seemed to dominate his latter years and as a result he had lost a large part of his integrity. For me, this perhaps leached into the ability to appreciathis music. However, once in the theatre and bombarded (in a good way) with the noise, light show and brilliance of performers and band it is difficult not to put aside any negative thoughts. 
When experiencing the broad scope of his work (and there are an incredible 30 songs in this show), as interpreted by Adrian Grant (Executive Producer) who worked closely with Jackson for many years, the realisation of what a ground breaking and influential artist he was, and still is, hits home. His music is such a part of the fabric of a number of generations as demonstrated by a very diverse and very appreciative audience. The combination of the enthusiasm from the stage and that of the audience was intoxicating!
There is a 'concert' feel to the show, a true sense of celebration and tribute and thankfully not an attempt to present any of Jackson’s personal life or to look too deeply behind the musicThere are a couple of moments of narrative to highlight Jackson's achievements but in essence it is a presentation of some iconic moments of music history.   
The leads are superb - on-stage almost constantly, maintaining the same level of high energy throughout and never missing a beat. This is a group who clearly live and breathe their roles, gel together wonderfully on stage and deserve the highest accolades. Ione Townsend, Tyrone Lee, Shaquille Hemmans, Adam J Bernard and Sean Christopher are all outstanding and hugely talented. Indeed, no praise is high enough for their performances last night. They are supported by a fabulous live band consisting of Rob Minns, Allan Salmon, Jo Phillpotts, Davide Giovanni, and Tom Arnold, directed by Mike Lindup. This outstanding group underpin the show and further elevate itbrilliance with their terrific ability to play any genre of Jackson’s music – soul, funk , pop, rock, disco. Add in an incredible ensemble of dancers supporting the leads with the same level of high energy, and filling the stage with colour and vibrancy (as well managing numerous, speedy costume changes) and this is a troupe who truly deliver the audience's expectations and more.  
Set and lighting design is stadium-show like – scaffolding creates levels so that oftentimes there is a ‘wall’ of performers – pyrotechnics on occasion, glitzy, huge screen projections and bright, dazzling lighting. The audience are lit for their participation which happens in the middle of the first half and again extensively at the end of the second. This is what the audience is here for and it is the ‘truer’ renditions of numbers like Billie Jean, Thriller and Smooth Criminal where Sean Christopher’s uncanny likeness to Jackson and his moves gets the audience near hysterical! 
 
A true crowd pleaser and DEFINITELY WORTH A TICKET! 

 

THRILLER LIVE is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 9th July

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 (bkg fee) online booking. www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes (bkg fee)

 

 

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