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A CurtainUp London Review
Thriller Live

"So, I've learned that love's not possession
And I've learned that love won't wait
Now, I've learned that love needs expression
But, I've learned too late."

— Lyric from "She's Out of My Life"
Thriller Live
Florivaldo Mossi as Michael Jackson
(Photo: Harrison Frank, George Bodnar, Andrew Cowie, Betty Zapata, Irina Chira)
It was a wonderful night at the Lyric Theatre on 22nd January to celebrate ten years of Thriller Live!. When news broke in June 2009 of the death of Michael Jackson, London's Shaftesbury Avenue theatre steps became a flower filled shrine for those who grieved for him and the loss to music. Since then, the show has gone from strength to strength and some of the proceeds have been invested in the show with new costumes and projections. One scene's 18th century naval costumes reminded me of Hamilton.

On 22nd January, the audience had many of the past cast members from years back enjoying the show and supporting their friends in the current cast. The atmosphere was electric! Ben Foster was there from the original "four" and Layton Williams, an original young Michael. John Moabi is in the current cast as well as being there ten years ago.

Much of what I wrote in 2009 applies still. Thriller is a concert, a tribute to Michael Jackson's songs and his iconic dance moves and, to a lesser extent, his videos. It is not the Michael Jackson story or the tabloid version of the celebrity Michael Jackson. The few historical, biographical slides and pictures shown in 2009 are no longer included.

The singing is strong, with four main singers (Vivienne Ekwulugo, Haydon Eshun, John Moabi, David Julien) plus the youngster who plays the young Michael Jackson (Messiah Unsudimi). It is probably Vivienne who sounds most like Michael Jackson, but this is a concert performance not an imitation tribute.

Florivaldo Mossi is the lookalike Michael Jackson whose clothes, hats, hair and dance moves recreate what it was like watching the original dances, so much a definitive part of watching Michael Jackson. Ben Foster's "Man in the Mirror" sends your spine tingling although he was a guest on the night.

It was again the dance which captivated me: the angular arms and legs of the Egyptian routine and the "how do they do that" of the synchronised slant forward to a whole body angle of 50 degrees from the floor with their feet still on the ground, as well as the Moon dance. The projections of events figure less than I remember, when we could also celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration, but the back of stage imagery is strong with "Earthsong" playing to images of the recent Californian fires. To read my review of this show on its inception go here
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Overture
  • History
  • Don't Stop/Billie Jean Remix
  • Who's Loving You?
  • I'll Be There
  • I Want You Back
  • ABC
  • Rockin' Robin
  • Blame It On The Boogie
  • Shake Your Body
  • Remember The Time
  • Human Nature
  • This Place Hotel
  • Dangerous
  • She's Out Of My Life
  • Off The Wall
  • Get On The Floor
  • Rock With You
  • Don't Stop Til' You Get Enough (Shorter)
  • Can You Feel It?
Act Two
  • Wanna Be Starting Something
  • Dancing Machine
  • P.Y.T.
  • Beat It
  • The Way You Make Me Feel
  • I Just Can't Stop Loving You
  • Smooth Criminal
  • Dirty Diana
  • Man In The Middle Intro
  • Man In The Mirror
  • They Don't Care About Us
  • Earth Song
  • Earth Song/They Don't Care about Us
  • Billie Jean
  • Thriller
  • Bad
  • Black or White
  • Smooth Criminal/Thriller Reprise

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Thriller Live
Written by Adrian Grant
Directed and Choreographed by Gary Lloyd
Starring: Vivienne Ekwulugo, Haydn Eshun, David Julien, John Moabi, Florivaldo Mossi
Young MJs: Joshua Atoyebi, Triple Calz, Isaiah Mason, Xhanti Mbonzongwana, Jay-Jay Prince, Messiah Unsudimi
With: Wayne Anthony-Cole, Sophia Mackay, Jonah Mayor
Dancers: Aisling Duffy, Ebony Clarke, Daniel Blessing, Filippo Cuffano, David devyyne, Joel Ekperigin, Eliza Hart, Leona Lawrenson, Mari MacLeod, Oskarina O'Sullivan, Zinzile Tshuma, Matt Vjestica, Vivian Gale, Simone Moncada
Musical Supervisor, Director and Arranger: John Maher
Set Designer: Jonathan Park
Costume: Shooting Flowers
Lighting Design: Nigel Catmur
Sound Design: Chris Whybrow
Video: Colin Rozee
Special Effects: The Twins FX Visual
Running time: Two hours 25 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 0330 333 4812
Booking to 29th September 2019
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 22nd January 2018 evening performance at the Nimax Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue London W1D 7ES (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)
Index of reviewed shows still running

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