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New Theatre, Oxford

I went to Thriller, Live, a Michael Jackson Tribute Show and pop concert, in a sceptical frame of mind. My wife, who is much more an afficionado of this idiom of music and also of Michael Jackson’s career in particular, also thought in advance that this might be a cheesy event. So let me admit it up front! We were both bowled over and had a delightful time.

I would recommend this show to anyone who knows any song made famous by Michael Jackson or the Jackson 5. There is no plot, just a lot of extremely good music of its type. The show does narrate the story of Michael Jackson’s career for you sporadically, but mostly it just performs lots and lots and lots of the music associated with him since he was a child.

For myself, I was very impressed by the way the show was put together: the choreography, the actual quality of the music and lyrics, the costumes, the integrated video effects; and, above all, by the sheer non-stop energy and evident commitment of everyone on the stage and of the band hidden behind the scenes.. This struck me as a very talented, sophisticated and highly professional company. There is a very fine set by Jonathan Park for all the dancing to take place in, and the Video Content Design by Colin Rozee works brilliantly with the choreography devised by Gary Lloyd, who also directs the entire shebang. Among the lead vocalists Sean Christopher impersonates Michael Jackson himself with considerable skill. Shaquille Maerice Hemmans, Angelica Allen, Rory Taylor and, Michael Kavuma were all outstanding. This is a truly professional collection of people and they work so hard and so cheekily that you have to submit and just flow with the show while enjoying it hugely.

The quality of this show is very high and staggeringly better than anything you are ever going to see on TV talent scouting events like The X-Factor. These are the kinds of performers that X-Factor contestants aspire to be and will take years to learn to emulate.

The sound is loud but doesn’t distort the really fine voices of the singers, so three cheers for the sound designer, Chris Whybrow; and every one of the company of dancers deserves special mention for outstanding ensemble work and for being able to pull off with apparent ease the quirky dances that recreate a lot of the movement of the  famous Michael Jackson videos such as Bad or Thriller.

I think the show is so good that even if you think you do not like this kind of stuff, you might be captivated if you give it a try. Do not sneer at what it is not! Go and enjoy it for being one of the best pop concerts you will ever see.

The audience loved it and participated with great glee whenever they were encouraged to do so. I would go see it again. My only argument with my wife afterwards was whether to give it 5 stars, as she wished, or to give it a mere 4 because of some minor quibbles I had about a few moments here and there. But it was the opening night and the company was getting used to the rather unforgiving theatre, so 5 it is!!

This spectacular and highly entertaining show is touring until the end of July. If you have any interest at all in the Michael Jackson or his pop idiom then try to catch it when it comes somewhere near you. I thought it was, ultimately a knockout!

  • Musical
  • Original Concept and Executive Director: Adrian Grant
  • Director and Choreographer: Gary Lloyd
  • Cast Includes: Sean Chrisopher,Angelica Allen, Michael Kavuma, Rory Taylor, Tyrone Lee,Gianni Arancio, Charlotte Bayeley
  • New Theatre, Oxford
  • 14-19 March 2016 and then touring
  • Review by Mel Cooper
  • 15 March 2016

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Canadian-born Mel Cooper first came to the UK to study English Literature at Oxford University and stayed. He was captivated by the culture and history of Britain, which he found to be a welcoming and tolerant country. After working in highly illustrated, non-fiction publishing for over a decade, he founded and edited the magazine Opera Now. Since then he has worked as a consultant to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a broadcaster on British Satellite Broadcasting, a maker of audio shows and arts critic for several airlines, and as one of the team that started Britain’s first commercial classical music radio station, Classic FM, on which he was both a classical music DJ and creator and presenter of shows like Classic America and Authentic Performance. Throughout this period, he also lectured in music and literature in London and Oxford and published short stories in Canada. After working with the Genesis Foundation on helping to fund arts projects, he continues to write, review and lecture on music and literature. His first novel has just been published as an e-book. The title is City of Dreams. It is the first volume of a projected saga called The Dream Bearers. You can find the Kindle version of the book on Amazon.

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