Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's the difference between incredibly good and astonishingly brilliant...

Review of Thriller Live show

Tribute show taps into the genius of Jackson

by Lesley Stones
originally  posted at Artslink website on 08/12/2010

"It ain't Michael, but Thriller Live makes you miss him more than ever.

It's only when other people try to replicate Michael Jackson that you realise what a total genius he was.

It's the difference between incredibly good and astonishingly brilliant, and that's highlighted in Thriller Live now playing at Montecasino. It's a great fun, frivolous show where hit after memorable hit is belted out by an assortment of characters all giving their different interpretation of the King of Pop. 

We start with a mini-Michael in the Jackson Five, with young Jordan Bratton making a convincing surrogate. Then we get a female Michael portrayed by Zoe Birkett, giving an exuberant performance with boobs bursting out and more crotch-grabbing moves than even the male Michaels manage. 

Perhaps the most important thing about a tribute show is to sound like the original, and they definitely do. 

Yet the aura and charisma of the real Michael is lacking, partly because the choreography pushes no boundaries. Thriller Live starts a fraction slowly, and in the first half the highlight were the breakdancers, lending some flashes of brilliance to the dance routines. 

The choreography grows far more exciting in the second half, especially when Ricko Baird makes a belated entry. Baird has those Michael moves perfected after being a front dancer on one of his tours, and he's absolutely mesmerising. He's got the looks, moves and magnetism to perform Smooth Criminal and Billie Jean superbly. And that Moonwalking trick is just astonishing. 

The presentation is impressive, with acres of sparkly costumes, an excellent live band behind sliding doors, and lighting panels showing old photos and flashing dancers. There's no storyline as such, just a few spoken sentences and statistics flashing on the screens as we follow the time line of his music. 

Thriller finally comes amid a series of expected encores, with Baird dressed exactly like Michael in the original hair-raising video. The ghouls shuffling onto stage look pretty wicked too. 

Yet their dancing was a little too lithe for the long dead, making it a far tamer version than the original. Which is a good thing really, so you can sleep that night with a head full of great tunes rather than fiendish graveyard nightmares. 

But forget all this analysis. Go prepared to sing and dance, clap and whoop and party, and you'll have a fabulous evening." 

Thriller Lives runs at Montecasino's Teatro until September 5, then at Cape Town's Grand West Arena from September 9 to 12. 


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