The stage performance, celebrating the songs of pop genius Michael Jackson, gave Malaysian audiences a reason to dance and sing out loud.
IT was a hot and humid Thursday evening, the sort where all you want to do is stay at home and watch the television in the comfort of your air-conditioned living room.
But for many Malaysians, the weather was no deterrent.
All of them simply descended upon the Putra Indoor Stadium at Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, for the opening night of West End’s Thriller Live (on until March 25; information: visit www.ticketcharge.com.my or call 03-9222 8811).
These were die-hard fans of Michael Jackson, many donning the late King of Pop’s iconic gloves, fedora, sequin jackets and even the red leather number made famous in the Thriller music video.
Unlike Jersey Boys, a jukebox musical that charted the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Thriller Live is more of a musical celebration of MJ’s illustrious career, chronicling the Jackson 5’s early pop years right up to the 1970s, when the quintet earned critical acclaim.
Nevertheless, the solo Michael Jackson years is where the heart of this show truly lies, with hits from classic albums like Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad and Dangerous, bringing his pop genius into sharp focus.
Walking into the stadium, brushing shoulders with the visibly thrilled audience, it felt like I was about to watch a Michael Jackson concert itself.
The energy in the air reached a tipping point as the show neared its start.
And then, without warning, like many a gloved one’s concert, the stage exploded with a multitude of brightly-coloured lights.
The sound of drums and electric guitar sliced through the air with their potency, ushering in the five lead vocalists of the production.
The proceedings kicked off with Jackson 5 favourites such as I Want You Back, ABC and I’ll Be There.
But it was the booty-shaking disco nugget Blame It On The Boogie that got the crowd up and dancing.
The dancers and singer Samantha Johnson wore colourful costumes, transporting the audience to the halcyon era of glitter and groove.
One cannot have a celebration of MJ’s music without the ballad that catapulted the singer to stratosphere.
Miguel Ayesa (of reality show Rock Star: INXS fame) serenaded the audience with the emotional She’s Out Of My Life with such charm and charisma .
Ayesa, who also played the lead character Galileo Figaro in the Queen musical We Will Rock You, captured the tenderness and heart-tugging traits of the ballad, his voice smooth and almost lyrical in its presentation.
But it was in the second act of the show that the audience was really up and gyrating to prime cuts like Beat It, The Way You Make Me Feel, Dirty Diana, Billie Jean, Thriller, Bad and Black or White.
One of the most outstanding song sequences was Smooth Criminal.
Keeping to the 1930s gangster theme, the fast-paced number mirrored the 1987 music video, complete with a singer entering the nightclub in a white suit and hat, singing about a woman named Annie.
The crowd went berserk when the dancers and vocalist Sean Christopher performed the signature MJ gravity-defying lean.
Crowd favourites definitely included Alex Buchanan and J Rome, whose voices very much resembled Jackson’s.
They belted the signature high registers in Beat It and Earth Song to thunderous applause from the enamoured audience.
“It was great! The music, the production, the performers … everything was great. I really liked the second half of the show, as I’m more familiar with the later Michael era, songs like They Don’t Care About Us and Earth Song,” shared Mick, 29, after the show.
Another audience member, 33-year-old Abby Latif, liked that instead of it being merely a Michael Jackson musical, Thriller Live was a musical concert, too.
“I think it’s the trend now. We are looking at a lot of musical concerts rather than just a musical or a concert.
“Even when you watch This Is It, the MJ movie, everybody is on their feet, dancing and singing and that is what people want. And Thriller Live gives you that,” said Abby.
There is no denying that no one can recreate the magic of Michael Jackson. He was truly a one of a kind artiste.
Thriller Live is a pure celebration of some of the greatest hits in music history.
So, why deny yourself that experience?
The show is presented by Milestone Production, supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, an agency under the Tourism and Culture Ministry, with RHB as the official bank, Munchy’s as Gold Sponsor and Star Publications (M) Bhd as media partner.