Review: Thriller Live at Bournemouth Pavilion

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The Thriller cast delivered a fun-filled, energetic performance at Bournemouth Pavilion.

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To a pumped crowd in the beautiful Bournemouth Pavilion, the cast of Thriller Live delivered an energetic, inspiring and fun-filled performance, as part of their latest UK tour.

What really brought this show to life was its quartet of leading vocalists: Adam J. Bernard, Shaquille Hemmans, Cleopatra Higgins and Rory Taylor. Specific praise must go to Taylor, who gave an extraordinary and poignant cover of ‘She’s Out Of My Life’, before moving on to literally rock the stage, with an ever-energetic rendition of ‘Dirty Diana’. Equally powerful, Higgins also dominated the stage as the show’s only lead female vocalist. She has something quite Fleur East-esque about her, and with a surprising amount of sass, she powerfully delivered hits such as ‘ABC’ and ‘Get on the Floor’. While Hemmans’ vocals were the weakest of the four, he had an excellent on-stage relationship with Bernard, which really added to the overall performance. The two bounced off each other and truly engaged the audience – at one point, during ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, the audience were asked to stand and shake their hips. The four together had astonishing harmonies that bought Michael Jackson’s music to life, working specifically well for tracks such ‘Can You Feel It’ and ‘Black or White’.

Besides the lead vocalists, two other areas deserve specific praise: the fantastic troop of dancers, and the staging/lighting. The dancers delivered several flawless routines, that were well choreographed to adhere to the traditional elements of Jackson’s dancing, including the iconic moonwalk, and a visually stunning dance to ‘Thriller’. The choreography also included some new additions and adaptations which were cleverly added to Jackson’s routines. Specific praise has to go to Peter Cleverley who, without doubt, delivered the standout dance performance of the evening, mixing a high-agility dance with stunning, flawlessly executed acrobatics. The staging, lighting and production value was also incredible. This went from the bright, vibrant performance of ‘Can You Feel It’, to the poignant performances of ‘Earth Song’ and ‘They Don’t Care About Us’, which included a slideshow of those who have stood for valuable change throughout history – including Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Jackson himself.

Despite all this, there were two slightly disappointing notes. The Jackson impersonator himself, while a very talented dancer, was left lip-syncing through parts, due to his poor vocal ability. This left two of Jackson’s biggest hits, ‘Billy Jean’, and the eponymous ‘Thriller’, overshadowed by those that weren’t lip-synced, as all his other songs were covered so well live. Though perhaps this just proves that you can’t sing and dance like Jackson did – there is only one Michael Jackson! The second is that, though they narrated Jackson’s music career and philanthropy throughout the show, there was no mention of his death. It would have been nice to see a poignant reflection on his passing, and what his legend means, and I’m sure this talented cast could have delivered it well.

Overall, however, this was a brilliant production, constantly fuelled with energy, promoting audience interaction, and displaying with creativity and nuance why Michael Jackson still inspires many today.

The UK tour continues in Bournemouth until 11th June (tomorrow), before moving to Torquay, Brighton, and coming to Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre on the 17th July.

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Philosopher and Historian and major pop-fan. You can find me listening to most pop in the charts (Beyoncé and Sia are most certainly goddesses), as well as some modern jazz and classical and enjoing the occasional trip to the theatre. I'm also interested in the repurcussions of the representation of sex in modern-day media! And I might be a fan of the X Factor. Sorry, I can't help it...

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