It is now almost a decade since Michael Jackson’s death and while his personal legacy will always be an ambiguous one, as a performer he remains without peer.
A musical based on Jackson’s solo output and his work with the Jackson 5,Thriller Live has been wowing audiences in London since 2009 and has spawned countless productions around the globe.
And when you have a back catalogue as extraordinary as Jackson’s to choose tracks from, this continued global popularity hardly comes as a surprise.
Thriller Live, which ran at the Theatre Royal in Norwich until June 1, is best thought of as sitting somewhere between a musical and a concert: there is little plot to speak of, with instead the story of Jackson’s life described in periodic commentaries from the vocalists.
For all this, the show is as rich an experience as any more traditional musical, with the songs supported by spectacular dancing, ever-changing backdrops and multiple costume transformations.
The vocalists represented a diverse array – male and female, black and white – yet, although only one was actually dressed as Jackson, none seemed to stray too far from the original versions of the songs while, in each case, offering something new.
And all of the performance elements of a lightning-speed Jackson show were included in their moon-walking, crotch-grabbing spectacle.
Britt Quentin, who bears a striking resemblance to a young James Brown and the late Jermaine Stewart (a performer who was occasionally compared to Jackson), was especially energetic in his dancing – and he amused the audience at the Theatre Royal.
Rory Taylor, an experienced West End and international vocalist, was also popular and, although looking nothing like Jackson, somehow fitted his role perfectly, with a voice that was particularly strong and convincing.
The setlist went through Blame it on the Boogie, She’s Out of My Life, Rock with You, Can You Feel It, Beat It, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, Man in the Mirror, Thriller (eerily performed with dancers dressed as ghouls), Bad and many, many more.
A few times the backdrop opened up to reveal a full live band, allowing the guitarists to come on stage to rock the house.
Through it all, the energy of the dance troupe of four men and five women was impressive, not least because this show lasted a generous two hours plus.
But despite the length, Thriller Live never dragged, and the action ended with a rousing version of Black or White.
And the reception from the audience? They were not just clapping politely – this show was sent on its way for the night with rapturous applause and whoops of delight.
Jackson’s crown as the King of Pop remains secure, and who could ever imagine anybody else taking it?