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Open auditions announced for singers for the W/E production and 2019/2020 World Tour of Thriller Live

Past stars of Thriller Live: Kieran Alleyne, Shaheen Jafargholi, Layton Williams, Ben Forster, Denise Pearson and Cleopatra Higgins.

Theatre news

PRODUCERS of Thriller Live, the acclaimed West End spectacular, have made an open casting call for singers to join the record- breaking London production and for the upcoming 2019/20 World Tour.

Thriller Live places very specific vocal demands on its five lead singers. The performers in the production come from many different backgrounds – often performers are from the music industry and not just traditional theatre or musical backgrounds – and they can sometimes be difficult to reach.

So producers have now decided to launch a nationwide appeal for singers who think they have the vocal style and charisma to take on performing some of pop’s greatest hits.

Over the past 10 years some amazingly talented singers had their early theatre career breaks in Thriller Live including:

Layton Williams, one of the original four young Michael Jacksons in the West End, is now playing the leading role of ‘Jamie’ in the latest West End sensation Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre.

Kieran Alleyne, who was the opening night young MJ in the West End, is now the show’s lead MJ dancer and vocalist on tour.

Shaheen Jafargholi, another early young MJ, who sang at Michael Jackson’s funeral service to a TV audience of hundreds of millions, has just finished a long run as a featured character in EastEnders.

Ben Forster, who began his West End career as a leading man in Thriller Live went on to win Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar talent show on BBC TV, then played Jesus alongside Spice Girls’ Mel C as Mary Magdalene for two years around the world. He has also played the leading role in Elf – the Musical, and The Phantom in Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera in the West End.

Denise Pearson, former lead singer with British pop/R&B group, Five Star, which comprised herself and her four siblings, was the first female lead singer when Thriller Live opened in the West End in 2009. City Life magazine described her as “uncannily pitch perfect as a female answer to MJ”.

Cleopatra Higgins, former lead singer of the British R&B/soul/pop sister act, Cleopatra, joined Thriller Live after reaching the semi finals of The Voice as one of Will.i.am’s acts.

So what exactly is the Thriller Live creative team looking for? Male and female lead singers and male child performers (age 9-14).

Thriller Live Director/Choreographer Gary Lloyd in his upcoming book, My Life With Michael, 10 Years of Thriller Live, said: “The voice is King. Quite simply, if they cannot hit the notes or show signs that with a little vocal wizardry you can find your way around a certain part, there is very little point pursuing the audition process.

“Once we find that voice, there must be some understanding and connection to the way MJ and the Jacksons sing that material. We rehearse them on the phrasing and their vocal delivery and once they have passed that test, they have to be able to back it up with some performance dynamics. Sounds obvious but quite often we have found the most incredible voices belonging to session singers, who also look fantastic but are not used to being out front or sometimes seen by an audience at all.”

Thriller Live Musical Supervisor John Maher added: “We are looking for singers to come in to audition to sing in their own voice, and not try to impersonate Michael. But we do look for people who ‘get’ MJ’s style, and can capture some elements of his incredible phrasing. Phrasing is a very personal thing though, and MJ’s was particularly idiosyncratic. So no-one will ever get all of it. But that’s a good thing – if you could imitate his phrasing perfectly you’d be the world’s best MJ impersonator. You’d never be out of work, but it wouldn’t be with us.

“Michael Jackson had an extraordinary vocal range. We do the bulk of the show in Michael’s original keys, so the vocal range alone rules out perhaps 95% of the male candidates, and a surprising proportion of the female ones. But what set MJ apart as a vocalist even more than his remarkable range, in my opinion, was the incredible rhythmic feel of his vocals. This was true even when he was a young child, as he had a groove any great drummer or bassist would be proud of.

“Every now and again, someone comes in who is vocally brilliant and so obviously right for the show, they sail through the audition process and win the entire panel over in almost no time.”

So, if you think you’ve got what it takes to impress the Thriller Live team, please contact Casting Director Debbie O’Brien at thriller@debbieobrien.net.

Now in its 11th year, producers recently extended Thriller Live’s record-breaking West End run at the Lyric Theatre to April 26, 2020.