★★★★ | Thriller Live.

A spectacular two-hour tribute to Michael Jackson which celebrates the music, dancing and performances of the entertainer, via a whistle stop tour through his back catalogue. This highly polished and slick show brings to life some of Jackson’s most memorable routines, the iconic costumes and the classic hits.

This show was much more than just two hours of a Michael Jackson impersonator with a few backing dancers. It was a glossy and thoroughly entertaining musical revue with a broad range of songs spanning the singer’s career which were performed with unyielding vigour and energetic enthusiasm by the cast and live band.

The 32 song set list started with the early Mowtown years, featuring ABC, I Want You Back and I’ll Be There; moves through the years with the Jackson 5; with Can You Feel It and Blame It On The Boogie; before heading into his solo career with some of his biggest hits including Off The Wall, Bad, Beat It, and The Way You Make Me Feel. The show also features some of Jackson’s lesser-known songs, including She’s Out Of My Life, Show You The Way To Go and Dangerous and it was good to see some routines to the songs that you wouldn’t immediately associate with Jackson over his biggest hits.  Only Earth Song and Dirty Diana let the side down, with both descending into a bit of an overblown and indecipherable mess, but these are easily forgivable when nestled amongst the other great songs and performances.

Particular highlights of the show included music video recreations of both Smooth Criminal and Thriller, great renditions of Man In The Mirror and I Just Can’t Stop Loving You and a thrilling recreation of the Mowtown 25 performance of Billie Jean, but in a show with so many show-stopping moments, highlights are difficult to choose.

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Featuring a quartet of singers who put their own spin on the vocals, avoiding them coming across as MJ impersonators, the standard of singing was very high, whilst the choreography and dancing were simply amazing. Cleverly utilising many of the routines (or elements of them) from the original music videos or stage performances of Michael Jackson, the dancers were spot on in terms of their timing and performance , with their acrobatic and exhilarating dance moves eliciting cheers, whoops and shouts of delight from the audience. Regardless of the controversy surrounding his life, Michael Jackson’s enduring appeal undoubtedly remains, and this is a show which ignores the singers private life to celebrate his musical legacy in a foot tapping, smile-inducing show which you can’t help singing along to; and a production which had people, quite literally, dancing in the aisles.

Even if you are not the biggest fan of Michael Jackson, there is still a lot to recommend this show. Obviously, enjoying the music is an advantage, but if you enjoy watching spectacular dancing and a well performed musical revue then this show is up there with the best of them. Thankfully, this is not a gushing, Michael Jackson praise-fest, but instead simply allows a bunch of highly talented singers, dancers and musicians to let the songs and routines speak for themselves.

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Thriller Live is currently at Sheffield Theatres before continuing on its national tour until 23rd July 2016. For details visit www.thrillerlive.com

About the author: Paul Szabo
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.