MiG Ayesa Interview

Sources: Music News – By Cate Altamura | All Things Michael

SS MiG Ayesa

Winning multiple awards and gaining recognition world-wide, Thriller Live has entered into the record books as the longest running show in the Lyric Theatres 125 year history. Starting out in 2009, the show was a tribute to Michael Jackson. Today, the show pays homage to the King of Pop.

Back on Australian shores for the Australian leg of the tour, MiG Ayesa, has a long list of achievements to his name including global hit TV show Rock Star: INXS, We Will Rock You, Rent, Burn The Floor andRock of Ages.

I recently had the pleasure to chat with the multi-talented MiG Ayesa about Thriller Live, the Jackson family and what he does in his spare time.

Music News – Congratulations on Thriller Live, I understand it was entered into the record books as the 20th longest running musical in West End History. How does it feel to be a part of a show that will live on in the record books?

It’s been a big honour to be representing Michael, his music and his legacy, but it also comes with a great responsibility. There are so many fans out there that love Michael’s music and we have to do it right. It’s an honour to be in show that’s been so successful and has so many accolades. I think its gone passed the top 20 and is now the top18th.

Music News – It’s great to hear that the show has surpassed its records. What do you think Michael would say about the show?

He’d probably want to be in it. (Laughs).

Music News – How did the Jackson’s respond to the show?

They are actually very supportive of the show and us. They love the show and in fact have all come to see it at different times……. Michael also had plans to come and see the show but unfortunately he passed away before he made it. They (the Jackson’s) are all behind it and we are very respectful of Michael and his legacy…….we have to pass everything we do through them and get there okay.

Music News – What can you tell me about Thriller Live and what can the audience expect to see?

It’s more a concert than it is a musical. It’s probably the closest thing you will get to a Michael Jackson concert. Everything is done live, that’s why the name “live” is in the title…. We have 5 singers, 14 dancers, 8 piece live band, pyrotechnics, videos, lights and lasers. It’s extravaganza – a celebration, so people should come with their dancing shoes and expect to have a good time because it is an uplifting celebration of Michael. We do touch on the fact that he is gone, but only very briefly. We focus on celebrating his life and the impact he has made on us and to popular culture.

Music News – Going back a little, I want to ask you about Rockstar:INXS. How did your experience on the show change the shape of your career?

Exponentially, it was a life-changing situation I must say. Being the only Australian in the mix, I felt like l needed to do really well, but not just for me, but for every Aussie out there (laughs). There was a lot of pressure and I felt like I buckled under pressure quite a bit and wish I could do it all again as I’d be wiser about the realities of reality TV, which is a monster in itself. It (the experience) definitely opened doors for me and changed my life – I moved to the states, got a recording deal and won a car. I live in New York City now and have been working on Broadway and around the United States and all over the world. Up until this day, people still talk to me about the show and it’s actually our tenth year anniversary. It’s worth celebrating the milestone of ten years.

Music News – Music aside, what do you like doing in your spare time?

At the moment, well actually I’ve got a very boring life. (laughs) I’m not doing anything other than working at the moment. I’ve also been working on a travel television show, that we filmed in the Philippines called, “Phil It Up” with co-host, Sophie Sumner. We are now in the post-production stages and I’m actually scoring the whole series. So I’ll do Thriller Live at night and in the day l’ll be in my hotel room with a keyboard and my computer scoring the series. So at the moment I’m not getting much free time.

Music News – Before I let you go, is there anything else you would like to share? 

My second album is currently out and it’s called, “More Than Ever”. It’s available on iTunes as well as on my website which is http://www.MiG-music.com. I’m also working on some new stuff and there are a few projects that are not confirmed yet,but if they do come to fruition, it will be very exciting and could be the biggest thing I ever did, so we will see.

Thriller Live is at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, January 28-February 8, and the Sydney Lyric, February 26-March 15.

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Thriller Enters Seventh Year In The West End – Tito Jackson And Show Producers Speak About Its Success

Sources: West End Frame | All Things Michael


Thriller Live John Maher, Adrian Grant, Tito Jackson, Gary Lloyd

The West End production of Thriller Live will celebrate tonight as it enters its seventh year in the West End by breaking more records.

Tito Jackson, who attended opening night at the Lyric Theatre in 2009 and has seen the show several times since with the rest of the Jackson brothers, has this week been speaking to the world’s press about the global success of Thriller Live.

He said: “It makes me feel very proud to see a show of this magnitude. It captures the personality of my brother, Michael. We always get new fans and new generations. One of the beautiful things about my brother’s career is its longevity and the multiple generations of fans who enjoy it.  His music has lived a long time, the songs are evergreen and will last forever.”

Thriller Live recently became the 20th longest running musical in the history of the West End. This Sunday (25th January) the cast will perform their 2,530th show at the Lyric Theatre and overtake the record set by Grease to rise to 19th position on the chart. On Sunday 12th April Thriller Live will pass the original 1960 production of Oliver! (at 2,618 performances) to take 18th position.

Producers Paul Walden and Derek Nicol said in a statement: “January 22, 2015 is yet another amazing milestone in the history of our show. It is only truly exceptional shows that run this long in the West End and we are very grateful to the fans of Michael Jackson and West End theatre audiences who have taken the show to their hearts.

“It is an honour for us to keep the music of Michael Jackson alive and bring it to the next generation of theatregoers. Michael Jackson was known as a perfectionist and we constantly strive to ensure that Thriller Live, celebrating the genius of his songwriting, ground breaking live performances and trend-setting dance moves, is the very best experience it can be for his fans and music lovers worldwide. Unlike other West End shows Thriller Live is constantly evolving and we have exciting plans for 2015 with the introduction of some new material and additional special effects added.”

Thriller Live was originally conceived and created by Adrian Grant, a long time associate of Michael Jackson, and author of Michael Jackson – The Visual Documentary. The production recently extended its booking period at the Lyric Theatre to 6th September 2015.


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Michael Jackson Stage Show Thriller Live Captures The Music, Not The Man

Sources: WAToday -By John Bailey | All Things Michael

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At a recent performance of Thriller Live in Adelaide, barely 20 minutes had passed before old Lionel in the front row was compelled to get up and dance. The rake-thin man – who must have been in his 70s or 80s – pulled on his glittering gold jacket and made a spectacle of himself before an audience of thousands. The crowd may have been surprised, but the cast are used to this kind of spontaneous interaction. There are fans, and then there are Michael Jackson fans.

“They will hunt anything about Michael Jackson down,” says singer Prinnie Stevens. “That’s what Michael Jackson did. He attracted fanatical fans.”

Stevens is one of a sizeable array of singers who bring Jackson’s music to life across the show, and while none are direct impersonations, each seems to embody one aspect of his public image.

“You couldn’t have one person capturing the true essence of the man himself,” says fellow performer Sean Christopher. “It wouldn’t be possible. We’d love to give it a try, each and every one of us, but I don’t think we have that kind of power. It takes a collective of us coming together.”

Christopher himself plays the “vision” of Jackson – the white-suited Smooth Criminal, the “moonwalker that literally floats through the show.” Stevens’ role (which she shares with American singer Samantha Johnson) is an embodiment of the sensual side of Jackson’s music. Others bring to life the soulful MJ, or the funky Off The Wall-era Michael, or his more abrasive rock edge.

“When the producers work with you they see what part of Michael you are,” says Stevens. “They really tap into that. Every person that plays a role will tap into a different segment of Michael.”

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Thriller Live has played across the globe, and while the fans may be a constant wherever it plays, the show itself transforms to meet the expectations of its destination. The track Earth Song has been added for the production’s debut in Australia, for instance, since it was a hit with fans here, but is absent in other countries where it didn’t fare so well. Aural smoothie Human Nature is an omission everywhere but Brazil, where it went down nicely on original release.

For Stevens, it was important that the work was originally created while its subject was still alive. “The guy who wrote the musical was friends with Michael and was actually the head of one of the fan groups. He spoke to Michael and ran everything past him. The thing I loved when I was asked to do it is that it was created innocently on just the pure love of Michael. When he passed away obviously ticket sales went up but I loved that it didn’t capitalise on his passing.”

It’s wrong to go into Thriller Live expecting an objective biography of Michael Jackson. Rather, it’s a biography of his music, and over the course of the show that music develops as much depth as any more conventional stage character. It’s a triumph of sound production that works as a powerful reminder of the sophistication and innovation of many of Jackson’s hits. It also highlights the way Jackson mastered the non-verbal potential of the voice, his trills and clicks and growls providing their own form of percussion.

“It’s all that gritty stuff, but that’s what made Michael,” says Stevens. “The musical director always sends us the a cappellas without any music, because when the music is playing a lot of the times he’s doing a kkk-kkk-ka-ka and he’s doing it at the same time as a drum or whatever. That’s how he gets those rhythms that set him apart from everybody else.”

As the portrait of a musical career develops, however, the figure behind it only becomes more cryptic. “He was such an enigma,” says Christopher. “But you could go to the most remote part the world and ask who the president of America is and they’ve wouldn’t have an idea who you’re talking about. But if you ask who Michael Jackson is they’ll do the moonwalk for you.”

Thriller Live plays the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne from January 28.

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Casting Call For Invincible: A Glorious Tribute To Michael Jackson


RossLive Entertainment is looking for talented entertainers for our upcoming INVINCIBLE A GLORIOUS TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON season and a new forthcoming production. So please spread the word!!! We have an amazing cast of dedicated performers but we now have the need to expand this cast of amazing performers even further for our upcoming seasons.

We need dancers (modern, jazz, hip hop). B-Boys, tricksters, singers, MJ impersonators and power tumblers.

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Think you have what it takes? Then come to the Millennium Dance Complex at 417 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 on  February 7 from 12pm-2pm. Must be available to make weekly rehearsals starting March 2015. See you there!


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Sources: Invincible: A Glorious Tribute To Michael Jackson | Edited By – All Things Michael

Thriller Live Concert To Celebrate Michael Jackson In Kl


KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 (Bernama) — In order to celebrate the legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson, a musical celebration “Thriller Live” will be held in Malaysia at the Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil, here from March 19th until 25th.

This concert all the way from West End, London is presented by Milestone Production and supported by Malaysia Major Events.

Milestone Production in a statement today said 50 international performers, musicians and crew will be taking part.

The public can obtain their tickets, which are priced from RM128 to RM538, online at http://www.ticketcharge.com.my. For more information call 03-9222 8811.


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Sources: Bernama | All Things Michael

‘Thriller Live’ Sets Off Fireworks In Australia

Paula Katsikas of The Michael Jackson World Network has written a wonderful article about her visit to the Thriller Live show during its tour in Australia.  She also interviewed cast members MiG Ayesa and Prinnie Stevens. An except is included below.


Paula Katsikas attended and interviewed some of the cast of ‘Thriller Live,’ which is currently touring Australia. Here is Paula’s report:

‘Thriller Live’ the musical celebrating the memory and life of the genius that was Michael Jackson has hit Australia in a big way. I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent New Years Eve in Adelaide!

Now, in it’s record breaking sixth year at the West End’s Lyric Theatre in London and having played in over twenty-eight different countries, this spectacular show created by Adrian Grant, which pays tribute to the career of the World’s Greatest Entertainer is moonwalking through Australia and set off fireworks in Adelaide just hours before the New Year 2015. After having had the opportunity to attend the New Years Eve show, I now
understand why it has been running for so many years in the UK and can see it running for many more!

With an international and Australian cast of twenty very talented singers and dancers, the show was nothing short of brilliant! The words exciting, thrilling, energetic and riveting from start to finish come to mind. Michael could captivate all generations like no other artist and though he may not be here in person any more, he continues to do so in ‘Thriller Live’ with his music.

The audience ranged from ages of eight up to seventy years old and all were up on their feet dancing and constantly giving standing ovations as the cast took them on an unforgettable two hour journey into Michael’s career with some of Michael’s most famous and iconic songs. From the early Jackson 5 number one consecutive hits ‘I Want You Back,’ ‘ABC,’ ‘The Love You Save,’ and ‘I’ll Be There,’ to the Jackson’s Disco grooves of ‘Blame It On The Boogie,’ and ‘Can You Feel It,’ to Michael’s timeless classics and newer songs including ‘Rock With You,’ ‘Billie Jean,’ ‘Thriller,’ ‘Smooth Criminal,’ ‘Beat It,’ ‘Man In The Mirror’ and ‘Earth Song’ to name just a few, the atmosphere was electrifying! The magic that was Michael, was transposed onto the stage by the wonderful cast through his song and spectacularly choreographed dance. Pure excitement flowed through the crowd at our Adelaide Festival Theatre.

Without anyone in particular trying to be Michael, his spirit has been captured beautifully in this production. It has been described by some of the cast members as; “Not just a musical, but the closest thing to a Michael Jackson concert.” Combine some amazingly gifted musicians in a live band, which though not always visible to the audience rocked the whole arena, with some voices and dancers that mean business, you feel like you are right there at a Michael Jackson concert.

It’s a brave act trying to take on a Michael Jackson song vocally, but each voice hand picked for this show, blends in perfectly to Michael’s songs. The lead vocalists are exceptional and certainly bring Michael’s music to life! At certain times you may be mistaken to think that Michael himself is right there singing on that stage.

It’s amazing where one vision can take you. In Adrian’s own words; “Michael made me reach for the stars.” I thank Adrian Grant for his vision as ‘Thriller Live’ wouldn’t exist without him and wouldn’t be here now in Australia. I thank the Australian Production team at The Ambassador Theatre Group Asia Pacific for their outstanding and respectful tribute to the undisputed King of Pop. An excellent production on all levels. In fact, one of, if not the best Michael Jackson tribute show that I have seen!

I would sum it with the statement, “If you are an MJ fan in any way, this is one show that you just don’t want to miss out on!”

On behalf of Michael Jackson World Network (MJWN) I also had the amazing opportunity to speak to Australia’s MiG Ayesa and Prinnie Stevens who are both lead vocalists in the show and both huge Michael Jackson fans, on a ‘one on one’ basis at a special media/press performance during the day. They were both kind enough to share a few words and answer some questions for the fans in an interview, MiG before the media performance and Prinnie after.


For the full article, click here.


Sources: MJWN | All Things Michael

Win A Pairs Of Tickets To Motown The Musical At The Boston Opera House

Sources: The Bay State Banner | All Things Michael

Win a pair of tickets to the January 27th show


It began as one man’s story… became everyone’s music… and is now Broadway’s musical. MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat. Now, experience it live on stage in the record-breaking smash hit MOTOWN THE MUSICAL!

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is coming to the Boston Opera House January 27 through February 15. Get tickets at BroadwayInBoston.com or by calling 800-982-278.

Click here to enter contest.



Michael Jackson Revisited

Sources: Stuff.co.nz – Siena Yates| All Things Michael


It’s June 25, 2009. A young woman sits alone in her bedroom when she hears the news.

Her initial disbelief is quashed when her sister calls in hysterics, sobbing; “come get me, you have to come get me”.

Across the world, another young woman wakes up to the news. Her family is heartbroken.

Everyone is crying, all day. There’s no school, no work.

And in a quiet London pub, a man sees the news on the bar’s flat screen and makes a phone call.

“Please just put the television on now because I think our lives just changed.”

He is Phil Watts, the touring director for the hit West End Michael Jackson tribute concert, Thriller Live. And the day after news of the death of the King of Pop breaks, the show must go on.

“The next day I was up at 5am, we had a conference call with everyone to say; ‘how are we going to do this today?’,” he recalls.

“It was an incredibly emotional night. At the time we had a kid in the show – a little MJ – and that kid was the first person on stage, on his own. The song was Music and Me, there was just an acoustic guitar backing him, and he walked out on that stage in front of two and a half thousand people crying their eyes out. It was unbelievable.”

The young women were Massachusetts local Samantha Johnson and Tongan-born Aussie Prinnie Stevens – now the two lead females in Thriller Live.

“People always say; ‘oh, why do you care so much? It’s not like you knew him’, but we did know him,” Johnson says, impassioned.

“When all this stuff was going on with all the allegations and the baby dangling or whatever, he used to do these interviews and he would look right in the camera and say; ‘my fans know what’s real’. And I would feel like he was talking to me, like I’m part of the MJ army and I always will be. So I did know him, absolutely.”

There is a passion when you talk to any of the cast and crew of this show about Michael Jackson. They change from polite interview conversation to sitting on the edges of their seats, their voices lowered, their eyes fiery and brimming with tears.

Ask any one of them why they do it and the answer is simple and comes with a shrug as if it should be obvious: “it’s Michael.”

After six years, Thriller Live has just entered the record books as the 20th longest-running musical in West End history, and now a touring company of some 40 cast and crew have joined with Australian counterparts like Prinnie Stevens and Mig Ayesa for an Australasian tour.


Mig, Prinnie and Sean

These guys make it clear though: it’s not a musical, but a celebration of Michael Jackson, with five lead singers and a talented cast of dancers working through a fast-paced set of MJ’s greatest hits from ABC to Thriller.

What most people won’t realise, though, is that it all started when Jackson was still alive.

The show’s executive producer, Adrian Grant, was a close friend of Jackson and was the organiser of his UK-based fan club events.


Adrian and Michael

Inspired by Jackson, the idea for a West End show came about and the funding followed shortly after an initial showcase.

“Michael was actually slated to come see it in 2009,” Watt recalls sadly.

“His brothers and sisters – with the exception of Janet – have all seen it, though. The key to it is Adrian’s friendship with Michael – they knew Adrian would never disrespect him either personally or professionally.”

As a result of that trust, the show’s production team now works closely with Jackson’s estate and it is the only show to have earned the rights to some of Jackson’s songs, as well as his signature dance moves and even the Thriller zombies, making this a one-of-a-kind production, made by fans for fans.

Michael Jackson is undeniably one of the most successful artists of our time, with 13 Grammys, 40 Billboard Awards, 26 American Music Awards and EVEN A host of Guiness World Records. He continuously pushed the boundaries of pop music and how we consume it.

How, then, do you even begin to find performers to back up the Jackson family’s trust and fill MJ’s shoes?

Thriller Live‘s musical director John Maher says it is an exacting process, and the hardest show he’s ever had to cast.

“These singers have to be world class. It’s Michael,” he says matter-of-factly.

“With everything else – the dancing, the fashion, the videos, the drama – his sheer vocal talent is sort of overlooked, but he’s absolutely up there in every way. He’s just exquisite.”

Maher sits in on auditions around the world with creative director and choreographer Gary Lloyd, watching young hopefuls come in by the hundreds, and watching just as many leave empty handed.

The vocal range alone rules out about 90 per cent of the men and a large percentage of the women too, he says.

“A lot of people can sing. Not a lot of people can sing this. We’re talking 40 years’ worth of music and he’s quite a chameleon.

“I remember, someone asked me once who my favourite rock singers were and I listed four or five and one was Michael Jackson and everyone laughed. Shortly thereafter, the video of Earth Song came out and I actually rang that person up and said; ‘remember what I was saying about MJ being a great rock singer?’. So even of the ones that can hit the notes, they can’t all get they style, can’t capture the spirit of it.”

However, every now and again someone comes along who changes all that.

Despite first impressions of being “some silly kid” with the wrong song choice, Alex Buchanan was one such performer, winning over Maher and Lloyd almost as soon as he started singing.

Alex Buchanan

Alex Buchanan

“He sang about three notes and I looked over at Gary [Lloyd] and we just smiled at each other and he walked out and we said, ‘just book him now’. It doesn’t happen often, but with the very best, you just know.”

And indeed, Buchanan is something of a show-stealer on stage, encompassing the more rock ‘n’ roll side of Jackson, bringing boundless energy and a high-pitched voice that effortlessly recalls Jackson.

He’s always laughing, joking, flirting – having a good time. But when he talks about the day Jackson died, his entire demeanour changes – he leans in and gets quiet and serious, as if he’s about to drop a bombshell.

“I was performing. I had a gig, nothing special. They put it on the TV in the club and no-one beleived it, but then it hit that it was actually happening and I went back and changed my whole second set and I just played nothing but Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson for the whole set. I was devastated. I was very quiet. I didn’t say nothing. It’s so funny how someone so distant from you can feel so close,” he says.

“But I was lucky ’cause I got the show just a few weeks after, and I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy that I could continue Michael’s journey, and give all those people what they wanted to see when they were going to see his concert. So I went out with fire, and I’m still fired up now. That’s why we do this.”

At the Australasian opening of Thriller Live in Perth, there is an eclectic mix of Michael Jackson fans.

Age, race, fashion, genre – none of it matters here. Some are dressed up, others are singing Jackson classics, and as cars hunt for parks near the Crown Casino, the King of Pop can be heard blasting from their stereos.

The audience take their seats and flashing MJ gloves are raised in the dark, then the show starts and it’s an all-singing, all-dancing trip through the ages from The Jackson 5 and Motown days to Off the Wall, and returning after an intermission to visit tracks from Thriller, Bad and Dangerous.

One of the male leads, Sean Christopher, is the epitome of Michael. Everything in the way he moves and holds himself screams MJ, and with that hat tipped over his face, you could almost swear it was the man himself, particularly as he leads the dancers through signature dances like Thriller and the Smooth Criminal lean.

Sean Christopher

Sean Christopher

Prinnie Stevens takes the female lead, belting out classics with impressive control and accuracy, and just the right amount of attitude. If you ask her, she’ll tell you about the anxiety she has around performing a certain song because of a technical issue one night, but you wouldn’t know it to watch her. She performs with ease and confidence and a certain amount of Michael’s endearing demureness.

Throughout the show, there is laughter, there are tears, the audience sings along and by the end of it we are all on our feet and it’s a party; the celebration the producers set out to create.

A row in front of me, a boy who can’t be any more than 6 or 7 years old is dressed as Michael Jackson – specifically the Michael from the Thriller video. He’s ecstatic.

“We see kids dressing up a lot,” says Phil Watts.

“We’re now in a position where these are kids who weren’t even necessarily born when MJ died, let alone when the songs were current. So why is that? What is it about him that makes that happen? You know my favourite MJ song used to be Beat It, because it had that rock guitar solo, but then when I started doing the show it became Man in the Mirror because I watched the audience and saw how much that song means to so many people. That’s what he was all about, that’s what he did.”


Thriller Live will be in New Zealand from February 12-22 at The Civic in Auckland. Tickets are available through Ticketek.

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