REVIEW | THRILLER LIVE
HULL NEW THEATRE, SATURDAY 11TH MAY 2019 5pm
After last month’s visit to my local theatre to see Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, I was excited to keep adding to my list of shows I’ve seen. Musicals and ballets are definitely my two favourite types of shows so when I saw Thriller Live was coming to Hull, I didn’t hesitate to get tickets.
I usually stick to evening performances but the only cheap tickets I could find were for the 5pm Saturday matinee. I thought this was late for a matinee as usually they begin between 2-3pm. I had reservations before the performance started because there were so many empty seats around us. I have to admit this left me feeling a little uneasy because I like to see a full audience. We had four empty rows in front of us so most of us on the back decided to move down after the interval!
If you think Thriller Live is going to be a typical musical, think again. It feels much more like a tribute concert than a musical as it has no defined story. Instead, it takes you through Michael Jackson’s discography from The Jackson 5 to his solo music. This is where I had the biggest issue. I understand opening with a more recent, well-known track but I felt the soundtrack seemed to jump between albums and eras. It would’ve been better to do it chronologically like the Beatles musical, Let It Be. That’s just my opinion though as I think it would be easier to follow.
The production is led by four singers and a typical MJ tribute artist. The four vocalists, Britt Quentin, Leticia Hector, Nick James and Rory Taylor, were all sublime. None of them tried to sound like Michael but instead, they put their own spin on every song. Hector and Taylor were the stand-outs for me, Hector in particular who had the longest legs I’ve ever seen and was not only a great singer, but a great dancer too.
Later, we were introduced to Michael himself, played by Kieran Alleyne, who was just as talented. His dance moves were slick and cool, just like MJ, and his vocals lived up too. Speaking of dance, I was impressed by all but one dancer. I won’t say who it was but she was lacklustre to say the least. I’m not sure she was reserving her energy for the evening show (there was only a half an hour gap between the shows) but she looked tired and clunky. She also twerked a lot and I’m pretty sure MJ didn’t twerk.
I did feel like there could’ve been more bodies on stage too as there were only 15 performers in the entire show: 10 dancers and 5 vocallists. For a big stage, they didn’t seem to quite fill it. This meant the audience were fairly flat too and the performers had to suck out some participation and enthusiasm from us. I was into it from the beginning, singing and bopping away in my seat, but most were sat there expressionless. It’s the sort of musical that the performers feed off the energy of the audience so when the audience is silent, the cast might not give it 100%.
The costuming was also a little bizarre in places. The cast transitioned into the disco era of Michael’s hits yet came out dressed in 80s Fame-style costumes. There was nothing disco about the outfits whatsoever! Other than that, the costumes were spot on! There were also some sound issues, with some vocals sounding a little fuzzy through the speaker system. Luckily, if you know the lyrics, you could still easily sing along!
I’m not sure how much the Thriller Live tour differs to the London production but I don’t think I would see the touring production again. Although there were many highlights, the show lacked a certain spark that MJ has and it showed at the end. The performers received plenty of clapping and whooping but it wasn’t sustained. Perhaps it was just a matinee feeling but hopefully if you’re planning to see this show yourself, you’ll have a more positive experience.