Wednesday, 4 July 2018

REVIEW: Thriller Live at New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Featuring over 35 Michael Jackson hits, Thriller Live has been performing to audiences all over the world for over 10 years with more ticket sales since the King of Pop’s untimely death in 2009.

Much like Immortal by Cirque du Soleil, this show fails to tap into the mind of Jackson and instead presents the hits backed by an energetic ensemble and tight live band. Largely the hits are presented in all their glory, resisting the temptation to update or remix them. This is well received by the enthusiastic crowd tonight who are on their feet and happily join in with the audience participation.

There’s no story to follow – save a couple of facts about Jackson – and no seeming logic to the order of the numbers but the cast plough through nearly two hours of songs and dances with highlights being the final 15 minutes act one (disco MJ) and the Smooth Criminal segment in act two. When the show is good, it is a timely reminder of an artist lost and it is a joy to hear the music he left behind.

Much of the show though falls into holiday camp territory with naff interplay and forced showmanship while none of the lead performers really shine. Of the four, Rory Taylor had the strongest voice while Britt Quentin’s vocal resembled Jackson’s the closest. Adriana Louise gave an impassioned performance but her voice didn’t suit the songs tonight and felt like the wrong role for her.

In the ensemble, Anthony Morgan stood out with slick moves and stage presence in abundance and was ably supported by Lee Pratt who dazzled in the disco era.

The production generally felt a little tired and cheap, with the costumes particularly needing an injection of quality and love. Interestingly, there is no wardrobe team credited in the programme notes. The set design, while simple and static, fills the large stage and is akin to the staging of many of Jackson’s stadium tours. Flanked by numerous video walls, the design feels a touch soulless and cold for a theatre show.

Many Michael Jackson tributes seem to miss the mark and fail to capture the
essence of the artist. Perhaps this is testament to his talent but the songs are crying out for his story to be told alongside them. Interestingly a new musical about Jackson is coming in 2020 so it’ll be interesting to see how this competes with Thriller Live. 

It’s a largely enjoyable night out for hard-core fans but feels like an underwhelming tribute to a musical legend. 

Review by Andy Edmeads 

Rating: ★★

Seat: E2 | Price of Ticket: £33
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