Review: Thriller Live Malaysia 2015 – Michael Jackson Musical Celebration

Thriller Live Malaysia 2015

Impressive vocals and electrifying performances of Michael Jackson’s hits thrill fans on opening night

Thriller Live is a Michael Jackson musical celebration by West End Production and the show is here in Malaysia for the first time ever with over 20 international cast members, 11-piece live band and the actual stage set and props all the way from London. Presented by Milestone Production, Thriller Live Malaysia will be running from 19 March until 25 March 2015 at Putra Stadium Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur. Yesterday night was the opening show and I totally enjoyed it even though I wasn’t a hardcore fan of the late King of Pop.

The show is very much like a tribute concert, and not a musical play with plots and characters. Instead of having one person pretending to be MJ, the late legend’s personality and personas are divided into a few incredible lead vocalists who perform the King of Pop’s hit songs along with energetic dancers, colourful visuals and special effects — it’s a full MJ musical journey experience indeed. However, just like most theatre production, there are two acts with an interval in between. Act 1 kicks off with a bit of MJ’s history before taking the audience back in time with songs from The Jackson 5 including I Want You Back, ABC and I’ll Be There, performed with retro-style visuals and costumes. I would’ve liked to hear the song Ben as well but somehow that track was never a part of the show anywhere.

thriller live 2015 malaysia stage set

There seemed to be a technical issue with the sound system at the beginning. The audio was going on and off randomly as though a cable somewhere had gotten loose, but the show went on anyway and thankfully, it was completely rectified before Act 2. It didn’t look like anything was going to stop them from giving us an impressive and entertaining show. The talented and charming performers were very interactive, and they got the strong crowd to not only sing along, but during several songs, majority of the audience got onto their feet, clapped and moved to the beat as well. The dance choreography is amazing and dancers are highly energetic throughout the entire show. The song arrangements, if I’m not mistaken, are mostly faithful to the original except for the obvious ones like the opening Jackson 5 medley. The vocals, needless to say, was pitch perfect.

In the second half of Act 1, the show begins performing songs from MJ’s solo career as well like Dangerous and Rock With You. On this night, I thought the act was stolen by Australian rocker MiG Ayesa when he performed the heartwrenching ballad She’s Out of My Life. Besides singing and dancing, Ayesa also plays the role of a host/emcee who does the opening speech and introduces his colleagues. The act closed with a strong performance of The Jackson 5’s Can You Feel It, and it was like as though they’re asking if we were warmed up and ready for an even more entertaining act after the coming interval. Yes, I felt it!

thriller live malaysia 2015 opening night

Act 2 features the stronger and more popular hits including Beat It, Smooth Criminal, Man in the Mirror, They Don’t Really Care About Us. Earth Song, Billie Jean, Bad, Black & White, and of course, Thriller. The practically perfect performance made Act 1 seemed as though it was just a sound check. Former The Voice UK contestant Alex Buchanan stands out vocally as his growling sounds strikingly similar to MJ’s when he sings the “rockier” parts and songs like Beat It and They Don’t Really Care About Us. The iconic dance moves like the moonwalk and the anti-gravity lean are assigned to be to led by one of the other lead vocalists, Sean Christopher, who dresses like MJ in entire show, and his performance killed it as well. The rest of cast also did a very good with MJ’s other styles, personas and personalities, particularly with MJ’s trademark falsetto.

Thriller Live is one gig that fans of Michael Jackson should never miss when it’s in town. It was truly a complete and sincere celebration of MJ’s magical music and career. I believe this was the first time I’ve experienced a genuine West End Production (unlike Sunway Lagoon’s so-called “musicals”) and I was blown away by how great it was. Even the King of Pop himself, although we know he was a perfectionist, may have approved if he was still around today. After the show, the press and bloggers were given a tour backstage and looking at what’s behind the scene kind of made me feel pity that a top class high-value theatre production such as this couldn’t get a more ideal venue like Istana Budaya or KLCC.

Thriller Live Malaysia backstage putra stadium

The tickets are selling fast and the show on the last day (25 March) has already been sold out. So if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, hurry now to!

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