In paying tribute to the man, music and movement of Michael Jackson, Thriller Live! creates a new genre of ‘musical’.
Not quite a jukebox show in the style of Mamma Mia, telling a cute tale with Abba’s songs, nor the biographical approach of Jersey Boys. Instead, it very vaguely chronicles his career from the Jackson Five days through to the mid 90s, with some mildly distracting and clunky dialogue charting his successes.
While much of Jackson’s personal life hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, there’s no denying he was a musical master whose work deserves the reverential tribute paid here.
Audiences at the Grand are in for a real treat, as the first to see a new-look version of the show, which also relaunches in the West End this week.
The ensemble cast don’t attempt to directly replicate his vocals nor do they merely copy the famous moves, although director and choreographer Gary Lloyd takes huge inspiration from the iconic routines.
And this is all the better for not being a straight ‘tribute’ show.
The energy never stops from the dancers, especially in the second act, featuring many of the biggest hits (and personal favourites); Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean, Bad and of course Thriller, each stunningly fronted by lead dancer as MJ himself Sean Christopher.
While the fresh approach given to many of the songs, with stand out moments from Cleo Higgins and Rory Taylor, allows for moments of stripped back contrast.
One query though, is how a show calling itself ‘Live!’ can rely so seemingly heavily on recorded vocals, especially given how strong the four singers actually are - backed by storming funk and rock riffs from the on stage band.
That said, you can’t not enjoy this fun romp through the King Of Pop’s career. Beat It? You’ll be hard pushed to.
* Until Saturday. Call (01253) 290190 for tickets.