Thriller Live! promises an electrifying visual and audio journey through Michael Jackson’s 45-year musical history when it plays the Theatre Royal Brighton from Wednesday, January 8-Saturday-January 11.
But off-stage, there is quite some story too as show director Gary Lloyd relates in his new book, the story of his decade working with Michael Jackson’s legacy.
My Life With Michael – 10 Years of Thriller Live! is Gary’s story, told around the tale of his involvement with the show – a look at his life growing up as a driven and determined male dancer in the 1980s and as an aspiring choreographer/director, and how the inspiration of Michael Jackson’s work paved the way for this continued relationship.
In the book, Gary explains how the show is cast and offers readers the chance to follow the journey of various cast members around the world. He also retells many of the funny and sometimes unbelievable stories of his own journey with the Thriller Live!, constantly developing it and documenting its behind-the-scenes narrative: “When you finally become a director/choreographer you dream of having that long-running show that travels the world and sits in the West End alongside some of the titles you have aspired to your whole life. When it happens, the one thing you are not ready for is the multitude of adventures, mishaps, dramas and stories that collect together from various companies.
“I have spent the last ten years grateful for the gift that is Thriller Live but constantly hearing myself say ‘I have to write a book about this.’ I am proud to have a collection of stories to share with MJ and theatre fans alike. Michael was my inspiration to develop the show but the motivation and incentive for the book is the Thriller Live performers, musicians, crew and fans who all have a part to play in this story. The book goes on a journey beyond the last ten years of Thriller Live, including Michael’s influence on me growing up. I don’t think I’d be sitting here or doing what I’m doing without him. The book started as an idea of writing a ‘behind the scenes’ about the show but has become much bigger than that. The book begins on the day of Michael’s death, a pivotal moment for the show and the fans. That was the day this little show became something much bigger for all of us. It became a shrine and a sanctuary for all the fans and a focus for the press, and we suddenly felt like we were in the eye of that storm.”
As for the book: “The show had been running for about eight years, and I have a young son. I dropped my son off and I was chatting to one of the fellow dads who had just dropped off his daughter. He was the editor of a paper, and we were just chatting. I was talking to him about getting interested in writing something, and the conversation turned to the show. He said ‘Why don’t you write about that?’ He said you have got two years to go until the tenth anniversary of the show, why don’t you aim towards that. I thought it was a great idea. I went away and wrote the first three chapters, sent it off to publishers and I was inundated with offers.”
It is now more than ten years since Jackson died: “Before he passed away, he had shaken off all the allegations. I think for sure, he had. I don’t think anyone would be able to sell out 50 dates on the This Is It tour without all of those allegations having been shaken off.”