Review: Thriller in Bristol

PUBLISHED: 14:52 16 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:59 17 February 2016

Thriller

Thriller

Archant

It was always going to be a worry going to watch a show featuring what essentially is the soundtrack to my life.

This is how I felt before seeing the touring production of the West End show Thriller Live at Bristol’s Hippodrome last night, which features the works of one of the World’s most iconic pop stars.

Michael Jackson has been around my whole life – I grew up listening to the Jackson 5 as a young girl and then his solo hits in the 1980s took me through my teenage years and early 20s, my mum being a huge fan and playing his albums Thriller and Bad endlessly.

And of course his hits continued throughout the 90s, taking on a more political edge but the legend was never out of the limelight, as much famed for his turbulent private life as his ever-popular music.

When the troubled star suddenly died on 26 June 2009 at the age of 50, during rehearsals for a series of new live shows being held in London, the surrounding furore and the world’s sadness meant his music was thrust again to the fore, bringing him a new generation of adoring fans.

I had feared that Thriller Live might involve a group of cheesy, Karaoke-style singers doing a poor imitation of the star but how wrong I was.

Instead the production, which has taken in excess of £100million at the global box office, is a totally spellbinding celebration of the Michael Jackson legacy and an amazingly-touching tribute to his work.

It is testament to the multi-faceted artist that not just one but five singers take on the task of performing the songs, and they are all there from the early disco hits of Blame It On The Boogie and Can You Feel It to the ballads I Just Can’t Stop Loving You and Man In The Mirror and ending in the later dance hits Beat It and Smooth Criminal.

The cast give absolutely stellar performances with the standard of singing and dancing top notch, making it look effortlessly slick and seemless.

The star of the show for me, was, without doubt, British performer Sean Christopher, who evidently after years of studying and playing the legendary showman, has morphed into Michael Jackson, bearing as he does, a striking resemblance and emiting a similarly engaging stage presence.

He has MJ’s robotic, body-jerking trademark dance moves down pat and he was so slick and mesmerising that audience members around me said the performance gave them goosebumps.

Although I loved the funked-up versions of many of the songs I was overjoyed that Billie Jean and Thriller were untouched and faithful re-anactments of the original 1980s videos and brilliantly portrayed by the aforementioned Sean Christopher.

Other stand-out performances came from fellow Brit Rory Taylor who gave an astounding rendition of I Just Can’t Stop Loving You and Angelica Allen, standing in for the lead singer of 1990s pop group Cleopatra, Cleo Higgins, in one of the lead roles, as well as Americans Shaquille Maerice Hemmans and Michael Kavuma.

The high-energy show was a clear hit with the audience, who were bopping in the boxes and needed little encouragement to stand up and clap along.

I think the man himself would have been extremely pleased and proud at such a fantastic homage to his music.

Thriller Live, which is the 17th longest-running West End musical of all time and now touring Europe, is at the Hippodrome until Saturday.

There will be performances at 7.30pm until Thursday (18th), 5pm and 8.30pm on Friday (19th), and 4pm and 8pm on Saturday (20th).

Tickets, priced from £19.65-41.65, are available on 08558 713012 or via www.atgtickets.com/bristol

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