Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | Thriller Live at Lyric Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Thriller Live at Lyric Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Thriller Live at Lyric Theatre
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13 Oct REVIEW: Thriller Live at Lyric Theatre

Thriller 02In two months time, Thriller Live will overtake Evita to become the 17th longest running West End musical of all time, as it clocks a staggering 2,901 performances at the Lyric Theatre. With global box office sales breaking the $150million mark and yet another extension to its West End residency announced, the phenomenal success of the show is testament to the enduring appeal of Michael Jackson, the enigmatic man and his now iconic music and moves.

Despite being lauded as “the 17th longest running West End musical of all time,” Thriller Live is a great big explosion of a show that rather dances around the definition of “musical,” the absence of named characters, meaningful acting or even the vaguest of nods to a plot line veering the production far from Shaftesbury Avenue “musical” territory towards that of a Vegas “performance.” Reminiscent of a 90s pop concert spliced with Michael Jackson: This Is Your Life, once you’ve stopped waiting for Michael Aspel to appear, big red book in hand, and are able to settle into a series of well-curated MJ songs performed by no less than six (yes, SIX!) Michaels, you’re in for an evening of…well…well-curated MJ songs.

A show that knows its audience, there’s moonwalking and crotch-grabbing galore, delivering all the hits up in a tidy format, with energetic choreography and a plethora of costumes. But even with the new content the staging feels dated, old fashioned routines arguably a nod to the Michael Jackson era but really coming across as tired and repetitive, performed amongst LED screens that hark back to the old We Will Rock You set with some very hit-or-miss graphics and a concept of set design that seems to have moved along a while ago now.

Thriller 01Bursting with awful self-indulgent pop concert tropes like forced audience participation, a second act that’s more encore than act, and dancers enthusiastically clapping in time with the music to practically beg audience members to also do so, suffice to say that it’s not my kind of show. But in between the excruciating professions of Michael Jackson’s success/fame/talent/moral integrity, an awesomely talented group of singers and dancers grace the stage with skill and exuberance, delivering a high energy show that’s sexy and visually engaging, features the incredible songs of the King of Pop.

Is Thriller Live a shining beacon of theatrical endeavour? Absolutely not. But a packed West End theatre full of people leave the Lyric every night with sore hands and aching faces, buzzing with excited chatter as they step in time to one of dozens of MJ hits. It’s pretty hard to argue with that.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Lyric Theatre and touring the UK
Images: Irina Chira

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here