Sources: The Star | All Things Michael
The musical celebration of Michael Jackson charts the different eras in the singer’s illustrious career.
Can you remember the last time you went for a thriller of a concert and everyone just wanted to rock with you?
Well, if you haven’t, it’s time you did with Thriller Live, a musical celebration of the late Michael Jackson.
Hailing from the West End, this high-octane showstopper will open at the Putra Indoor Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, on March 19, and is set to get the Malaysian crowd up on its feet with a mix of favourites from the Jackson 5 and solo MJ material, including ABC, Bad, Billie Jean, Blame It On The Boogie, I Want You Back, Rock With You, Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel and, of course, Thriller.
“The show is a journey through Michael Jackson’s music. It’s presented in the style of a musical celebration and people will leave feeling like they’ve been on an incredible ride through the work of this remarkable artist,” shared the show’s Australian-born musical director John Maher in an e-mail interview.
Conceived by British writer/producer Adrian Grant, a long-time associate of Jackson, the international-scale production has toured 28 countries since 2009 and features over 50 performers.
Grant was the man behind the Annual Michael Jackson Celebration in London, which started in 1991 and ran for 10 years.
In 2006, Grant, the author of Michael Jackson – The Visual Documentary, developed the tribute show further and created Thriller Live, which previewed at the Dominion Theatre in London before touring Britain in 2007.
It even received blessings from Jackson himself!
Thriller Live became the 20th longest-running musical (in the West End) last October, among musical legends like Phantom Of The Opera and Cats.
It has extended its booking period once more at the Lyric Theatre in London, dancing on to September 2015.
“I think what keeps people coming and people coming back is it’s infectiousness. The music is so catchy and enjoyable,” added Maher.
The international touring cast of Thriller Live, which is set to impress Kuala Lumpur, is nothing short of spectacular, too.
So, how does one cast someone to play the King of Pop? There is possibly no one in this world that could fill Jackson’s shoes.
“Michael Jackson was such a unique talent. I decided from day one that I didn’t want the show to be a straight tribute performance with one impersonator.
“I wanted to take the audience on a journey and display all of Michael Jackson’s different personas and talent on stage,” said Grant in a separate interview.
Five performers in Thriller Live, including a zestful talent for the early Jackson 5 hits, a soulful singer, the pop star, a rock sensation and a female singer, will represent the various high points in Jackson’s storied career.
“We want to capture the different elements in Michael Jackson’s musical personality. We are not interested in vocal impersonators. We look for people who have an understanding of Michael Jackson’s music but who can also bring something of themselves to the songs,” explained Maher.
“It’s extraordinarily difficult to get Michael Jackson’s music right – both for the musicians and the singers. You can play all the notes but getting the feel of it right is difficult. It’s all about the rhythm, it’s all about the groove of his music. With the singers, it’s diabolically hard,” he added.
The Jackson 5 with the young MJ taking centre stage, as Motown label owner Berry Gordy once famously said, would exemplify “bubblegum soul.”
For Thriller Live, a youthful cast of performancers is important in lifting the songs by the Jackson 5 and some of Michael’s early solo performances.
A useful backstory is always handy — Thriller Live, charts the Jackson 5’s early pop years right to the 1970s-era where the quintet earned critical respectability.
Nevertheless, the solo Michael Jackson career is where the heart of this show truly lies, with hits from albums like Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad and Dangerous bringing to light his pop genius.
The biggest pull factor, for Maher at least, are Jackson’s songs, Man In The Mirror(from MJ’s Bad album in 1987) being his favourite.
“It has everything. It’s a wonderful piece of music. It’s enormously invigorating and uplifting, and I think it captures Michael at one of his many peaks.
“It’s about as close to perfect as a song can be, I think. It’s one I particularly look forward to playing every night,” he enthused.
Maher pointed out that some of the songs would get a different treatment from the originals.
“Michael was a musical chameleon, and we try to reflect that in our approach. People will hear all the songs they love, but they’ll get a few surprises, too,” he concluded.
Thriller Live surely gives reason to celebrate one of the greatest performers the world has ever seen.
Thriller Live runs at Putra Indoor Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, March 19–25 at 8.30pm; plus 3pm weekend matinees on March 21 and 22. The show is presented by Milestone Production, with Star Publications (M) Bhd as the media partner.
Tickets are RM538, RM468, RM398, RM298, RM168 and RM128. Go toTicketCharge or call 03-9222 8811.
For details, go to milestone-entertainment.com.
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