Show: Thriller Live

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I WANT You Back, I'll Be There, Rock with You, Blame It on the Boogie and Billie Jean - the list of hits Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 have churned out during their musical careers is long and impressive. All of these are firm favourites with many, me included.

I am a self-confessed 'Jacko' fan and love everything he's done with and without the backing of the Jackson 5.

I have long accepted the fact seeing Michael perform in the flesh was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was never going to experience, but luckily I discovered the next best thing.

Thriller Live, a new production by Flying Music and Key Concerts, is a multi-media stage and video spectacular celebrating the career of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. Just in time for the epic album Thriller's 25th anniversary.

There was definitely a buzz of excitement in the air at Fairfield Halls in Croydon before the show.

The signature high-pitched yee hee' echoed from the foyer and it was endearing to see a young boy recreating Michael's signature Moonwalk, proving Jackson's music still appeals to all ages.

Unfortunately my excitement at seeing Tito Jackson compere the production was short lived, as he couldn't make it. But Jeffrey Daniel - of pop sensations Shalamar and I can Make You feel Good fame - was a great last-minute replacement.

Tito was still there in spirit and a video link showed him talking from the Jackson home. This opened the show followed by a performance of my personal favourite Jackson number, I Want You Back.

The stage was vibrantly brought to life by the dancers, easily the strongest element of Thriller Live. Their endless energy and clear passion for the music reflected Jackson's own style.

This talent was complemented by superb choreography from the dazzling MTV award-winner LaVelle Smith Junior, who has worked with the likes of Janet Jackson, Beyonce and the Rolling Stones.

His routines brought the songs to life in a sensational way and worked well with each era of Jackson's music, transporting the audience from ABC days in the 60s to Earth Song in the 90s.

Although for 90 per cent of the show I was up on my feet joining in with the Thriller fever, I did find myself drifting in and out of interest at some parts. From a personal point of view, I found it hard to connect with some of the performers, especially those playing Michael's role.

However the boys who took on the role of the young Michael - during his time in the Jackson 5 - and various other vocal feats were very impressive. They looked and sounded amazing. It was surprising even at such a young age they were able to draw the audience into the songs.

The older Michaels were not quite so successful at pulling me in, a shame as the songs he produced as a solo artist are the ones which are most prominent, for me.

The phrase saving the best till last' was most definitely the case here, the finale was by far the most outstanding of the production.

Having sat through the journey of Michael's career, the audience were filled with anticipation as the infamous title song Thriller was yet to be covered.

The cast recreated the renowned Thriller video on stage with the support of a multimedia spectacular.

US R&B star, Chris Brown, a talented dancer and huge fan of Michael Jackson, joined the performers for the finale and the encore. His dancing was superb and the spitting image of Michael Jackson in his Thriller days.

On a whole it was a brilliant night of family entertainment: full of singing and dancing with a gospel choir and a live band thrown in too and a successful celebration of the musical wonder which has influenced and touched so many lives.

It was well worth watching, even if you're not wacko about Jacko.

  • Thriller Live, The Orchard, Dartford, tonight at 7:45pm. Box office 01322 220000.

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