BWW Reviews: THRILLER LIVE, Bristol Hippodrome, September 30 2013
Having seen the London cast of Thriller Live performing at various events such as West End Live, but having never seen the whole show, I was keen to head to the Bristol Hippodrome to see the fully staged version. I took my seat amongst a very mixed yet uniformly excited crowd, and spotted several black trilbies and the odd white glove dotting the audience.
The show starts with a bang, with flashing lights, retro images of the King of Pop, and facts and figures about his life. As expected, the first few numbers come from the well-known back-catalogue of the Jackson 5, from I Want You Back and ABC to I'll Be There and Blame It On The Boogie. Strangely, though, despite being popular songs and well performed with interesting choreography, I felt that something wasn't quite right. This was perhaps due to the randomly interspersed bits of compèring from the lead vocalists, which I thought seemed rather out of place, unnecessarily slowing down the pace of the show. However, thankfully these sections grew less frequent as the evening progressed, and once the hits kept coming, the show really began to drive itself forward, drawing in the audience and getting many on their feet at several points throughout the performance.
Cleo Higgins, best known as lead singer of 90s group Cleopatra, put in a great performance, with a voice which sounded uncannily like the young Michael Jackson in the initial days of his fame. The other singers all put in strong performances, but for me the stand-out vocals came from Jesse Smith. Many of his numbers were the highlights of the show for me, starting with a soft yet intense rendition of She's Out Of My Life, to full-on powerful rock vocals in Beat It and Dirty DianA. Smith had great presence and truly owned the stage, giving every note and beat of the song his all.
Other highlights of the evening for me were the numbers in which Sean Christopher made an appearance as lead dancer, cracking out some classic Jackson moves with great style and aplomb, particularly in Smooth Criminal. I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the dancers, with each one having their own style but working well together as a group, yet there were two in particular who caught my attention. Michael Lin had great character and energy, while the statuesque Christian Sharrier demonstrated power, grace and agility, truly shining as a top-notch dancer.
While I felt the format could do with a little tweaking, particularly in the first act, Thriller Live does not disappoint when it comes to pouring out the Michael Jackson classics, from Billie Jean and Thriller to Bad and Black or White. If you love the music of the late Michael Jackson, and fancy an evening out at the theatre in a concert-esque atmosphere, then grab a ticket for Thriller Live at the Bristol Hippodrome!
Thriller Live is playing at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 5 October.