Thriller Live first moonwalked onto the West End stage in 2009 and on Thursday it celebrated its 2,000th performance at the Lyric Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue with an explosion of raw talent that proves it’s still the most exciting show in London.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Michael Jackson fan or not (though it obviously helps) Thriller Live is a tribute to some of pop’s most iconic songs and dances presented by a staggeringly fine company.
It’s impossible not to be impressed by a group of dancers who perform some of the most jaw-dropping moves I’ve ever seen. If they’d been on screen you would have convinced yourself that some of the sky high leaps and somersaults were computer-generated.
As well as the fancy footwork, they body pop and breakdance. Watching David Jordan’s uncanny impersonation of MJ sends shivers down your spine. It’s all there. The fedora, the greasy corkscrew hair, the plasters on the fingers, the flick of the jacket and the tics and twitches that made the superstar’s routines so unique.
Jackson was the ultimate innovator. Each song was a performance piece accompanied by a standout video that was a mini movie in its own right. Just like Bowie he had the ability to reinvent himself . He went from cute lead singer with his family’s Jackson Five, through disco and Off The Wall to Dirty Diana, the stupendous Smooth Criminal and the pounding They Don’t Care About Us.
Along the way he created Heal The World, Billie Jean, Black or White, Bad and, of course, the ground-breaking Thriller.
And the show, as fresh and buzzing as that opening night in January 2009, is a tribute to all his remarkable talents.
Instead of one MJ look and sound-alike we’re indulged with a whole collection (wonder what the collective noun is for a group of MJs?) including a woman – former Pop Idol Zoe Birkett – who sounds amazingly like both Michael and Janet (and in one scene almost gave her impersonation of JJ’s infamous wardrobe malfunction).
She re-joined the show last week and is nothing short of spectacular.
The show is such a success that it has even spawned its own academy to recruit youngsters they can mould into mini-me versions of the singer.
But the boy who stole the audience’s heart, wasn’t an academy star but little poppet Eshan Gopal who plays the baby MJ with the Jackson Five.
Coming on with the group, complete with ‘fro and plaid 1970’s costumes, for ABC, there was a collective “aah” from the gala crowd (that included X Factor hopefuls Rough Copy) who were blown away with his voice.
Later in the show he was back with Jordan for a dance routine that showcased the astounding emerging talent of this tiny star.
Thriller Live does what it says in the programme – more than two hours of music and dance that will have you out of your seat and singing along.
Nothing is overlooked and forgotten. More than 34 songs covering the star’s entire, and sadly curtailed, career.
The 2,000th show ended with the bringing on of a huge cake which we all tucked into at the post show party - before the tireless cast left to go to a post post-show party!
*If you can’t get to London the touring production of Thriller Live opens tonight at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton, and runs until Saturday (tickets from 01604 624811 or go online www.royalandderngate.co.uk.