Michael Jackson lives on with Thriller Live
PUBLISHED: 15:31 03 July 2014 | UPDATED: 16:22 03 July 2014
It's been five years since the shock death of Michael Jackson, but the King of Pop's music continues on — not least in the long running West End musical featuring his songs which comes to Norwich next week.
We’ve just passed the fifth anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, but for many the late singer remains the King of Pop.
The biggest-selling music artist in the world at one time, the groundbreaking entertainer continues to moonwalk his way into eternal superstardom — even taking the stage as a hologram last month, in a highly anticipated performance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.
Present-day crooners who have taken cues from the gloved-one — Justin Timberlake, Usher and more — have also taken their admiration a step further like Timberlake’s appearance on Jackson’s recent return to the charts with his second posthumous album XScape.
And whatever you think about the controversial singer, even his most hardened critics would be hard pushed to deny that his music — from a child star with his brothers in the Jackson 5 through to his mega-selling Thriller and Bad days — lives on.
Nowhere is his enduring musical legacy more obvious than in the continuing success of Thriller Live, the West End show based around his music.
Thriller Live is the longest-running show in the 125-year history of the Lyric Theatre in the West End. It first moonwalked on to the stage there in January 2009 and, 2,200 performances and counting, it is scheduled to run at least until April next year.
Sell-out productions have also run in Scandinavia, Holland, China, South Africa Singapore and Japan and there has been a European tour.
And it seems the West End just isn’t enough as a second production of the hit-packed show is on tour across the UK and comes to Norwich Theatre Royal next week.
Not a musical in the strict West End sense of the word, with songs intertwined with a traditional story, Thriller Live is more a musical tour de force, showcasing great voices from a variety of singers, combined with choreography and effects.
Don’t go expecting was a chronological look at the singer’s life. While there are some scenes which fit with parts of the singer’s life — it starts with a Jackson 5 sequence including an incredibly cute young artist as MJ and the end boasts the unforgettable Thriller dance routine — but mostly it features vocalists, male, female, black and white, bringing their own musical style to celebrate MJ’s influence. At times there are three or four “Michaels” on stage at a time, all with their own unique style.
But fear not — all of Jackson’s signature moves, from the crotch grab to the moonwalk are present and correct. Among those putting their own stamp on his music are 2009 X Factor finalist Rachel Adedeji, who when she takes to the Theatre Royal stage will mark another milestone in a career which has catapulted her from theatre school hopeful to performing in front of musicians such as Robbie Williams, Michael Bublé and the late Whitney Houston.
The 22-year-old is a big Michael Jackson fan and is thrilled to be presenting his music in the all-action stage show.
“The fact that I get the chance to sing some of Michael Jackson’s songs is just awesome,” she said. “When I got the chance to star in the show in the West End; that was the moment I just thought ‘for me, suddenly, this is for real’. Suddenly I am in the West End. It was such a big deal. I have been very lucky to star in the show in Europe as well.”
And the show is a great treat for all fans of Jacko – herself included.
“Expect to have fun, expect to sing along and be up on your feet,” she says. “We kind of force you guys to get up and dance. It’s put together by a team of people who love Michael Jackson as well.”
The show was conceived by Jackson family friend and author, Adrian Grant.
“My big numbers are The Way You Make Me Feel, Blame It On The Boogie, but my favourite is the duet I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”
Rachel was always encouraged by her parents to dance, sing and act. She attended various stage schools and earned triple distinction in Musical Theatre at college. “But it was the singing that I enjoyed the most. When I was 16 or 17, I decided that it was what I wanted to do as a profession. I did The X Factor and then went on to do recording and performing in my own right.
“The X Factor was an incredible experience for me and such a great opportunity too. It is great to be able to present yourself as a performer. One of the highlights of it for me was singing to Whitney Houston and Michael Bublé and then getting the feedback from them.”
She said: “It is important to me to be developing my own songs alongside Thriller Live. I will still be doing some recording while I am on the road. When I get breaks from the show, I also spend my time wisely working on my music as much as I can.”
Thriller Live is a show that’ll inspire you to dust those Jackson albums off and offers the perfect excuse to play Thriller on repeat.