Grand Opera House, York
4-9 November 2013
Reviewed by Emma Wasson
I was recently invited to see Thriller Live at the Grand Opera House in York. My tickets were waiting for me at the box office, the lady behind the desk was very polite, and handed me the tickets and a programme.
All encounters with staff were positive. A member of staff was located at each entrance to the theatre and pointed us in the direction of our seats, the bar and the toilets. We arrived in plenty of time, so took a drink in the dress circle bar before the performance, where we sat at a table and enjoyed our drinks in comfort before the performance.
The Grand Opera House was clean and tidy as were the toilets. It was busy with a real mix of people from young to old who had come to enjoy the show.
Michael Jackson’s fame was so huge and his career spanned many decades and he was famous for so many things, ranging from his voice, his lyrics to his unique costumes and unforgettable dance moves. He was such a talented artist with thousands of people still enjoying his music today, I was not sure what to expect from Thriller Live. However this performance did not disappoint on any level and exceeded my expectations in so many ways. It was not only the talented vocalists and dancers that made the show, but the clever choreography used and the brilliant costumes worn to the clever set design, lighting and pyrotechnic effects and the talented live band. All in all a spectacular performance.
The show itself took on a different twist to other shows, with one of the lead vocalists acting as a narrator and at various points during the show he chatted to the audience giving us a brief history of Michael Jackson’s life or music, which enabled the performance to flow from one period to another seamlessly.
The cast of Thriller Live did an amazing job of bringing all the elements of Michael Jackson to life, with attention paid to every detail he has become known for. The costume designers are to be highly commended, as there were many costume changes throughout the show, not only demonstrating the various eras which spanned Michael Jackson’s career but also highlighting his specific and unique dress code, including his trademark buckle trousers, white suit, the famous glove, white socks and black trousers. As mentioned above no detail was spared, and the hair and makeup throughout the show was brilliant, from Michael’s Jacksons trademark hair long thin curly hair sweeping over his face, which was showcased in Dangerous to the gruesome make up used in Thriller, together with the costumes they told a story in themselves. The female dancers also had some amazing costumes, to the bright and funky coloured leotards and leggings used for the early Jackson 5 numbers to the sparkly sexy leotards worn later on in the performance, subtle changes were cleverly used throughout to portray different images.
There were 4 lead vocalists backed by an amazing troupe of dancers, whose energy and enthusiasm shone through from the start to the finale of the whole performance. All of the lead vocalists had amazing voices, with Cleopatra Higgins fronting many of the songs, she not only had an amazing voice but added her own style to many of the songs, giving them a slightly different twist.
From early on during the performance the cast of Thriller encouraged viewer participation, mainly through clapping, however it wasn’t long into the first half of the show that the audience were asked to stand and split into 2 groups and encouraged to join in with the song, competing against the other half of the spectators. Then again during the finale of the whole show the audience was asked to rise to their feet and join in by swaying and singing along. All of the cast had a great stage presence and were at ease talking to and performing to the audience, and built up a good rapport with the crowd and this clearly paid off as the crowd responded with huge cheers after every song, a great time was had by all.
There were just so many amazing songs throughout the show, from Michael Jackson’s early numbers when he was part of the Jackson 5 to his later hit singles, such as Thriller, Beat It and Smooth Criminal, Thriller Live covered them all. For many of these songs, there was so much going on your eyes didn’t know where to look first. As the vocalists sung the songs, the dancers would be telling a story through moves around them. The set was very simple but was cleverly designed to showcase the talents of the dancers, with a mounted stage and two staircases; it enabled a story to be acted out for each song. The chorography throughout the entire performance was out of this world, my friend and I were amazed at how the dancers managed to remember all of the steps. Each routine was in perfect timing and the set itself was used together with the lighting and pyrotechnics to add that extra sparkle to each number.
The dancers performed some extremely tricky and complicated dance routines, which they pulled off with ease, showcasing individual talents and their strength, as they break danced, back flipped and did the splits on stage to the delight of the audience. Not forgetting the famous moonwalk which received a huge cheer from the audience each time it was used.
The band were hidden behind a movable screen at the back of the stage, and were brought into view for several songs, as well as some of the guitarists coming onto the main stage to showcase their individual talents during several songs. Job well done.
Overall, what an amazing performance! I loved every minute from start to finish. A definite must see for any Michael Jackson fan. A group of highly talented singers, dancers and musicians who put on a spectacular show, I would recommend this to anyone and would definitely go back again.
Thriller Live is showing at the Grand Opera House, York until 9 November 2013, to book tickets click here.
Thriller Live is touring the UK until 8 March 2014. For more information on tour dates or to book tickets click here.