Pearson, Baird, Wright, Foster and More to Star in London's Thriller Live

News   Pearson, Baird, Wright, Foster and More to Star in London's Thriller Live Former 5 Star lead vocalist, songwriter and Brit Award winner Denise Pearson will make her West End debut in Thriller Live, the new West End celebration of the life and career of Michael Jackson, which begins performances at the Lyric Theatre Jan. 2, 2009, prior to an official opening Jan. 21.
Poster for Thriller
Poster for Thriller

The limited run will play through April 12. Also featured in the company will be Ricko Baird, who co-choreographed Jackson's "You Rock My World" and doubled for him in the video. He was also lead dancer alongside Jackson on the award-winning "Dangerous" and on the "Michael Jackson and Friends" tour.

They join the previously announced three 13-year-old boys who will alternate in the role of the young Michael Jackson in the show: Layton Williams (previously the first black Billy Elliot in London), Sterling Williams (Young Simba in The Lion King) and newcomer Kieran Alleyne.

Also in the cast will be Roger Wright, who created the role of Simba in the original London cast of The Lion King and played Marvin Gaye in the West End production of Dancing in the Streets; John Moabi (seen in Street Scene at the Young Vic earlier this year); Ben Foster (Doody in the West End production of Grease) and Ashton Russell, with Kamilah Beckles, Ivan Blackstock, Jordan Darrell, Jo Dyce, Christabelle Fields, Elliott James, Earl Perkins, Danni Rothman, Emily Rumbles, Ross Sands, Sean Williams and Yasmin Yazdi.

Pearson formed British R&B group 5 Star – once dubbed "the British Jackson 5" - in 1983 with her four siblings, Stedman, Lorraine, Doris and Delroy. 5 Star songs written by her include "Stay Out of My Life" - the group's only self-composed Top 10 hit; "Hard Race," "There's a Brand New World," "What About Me Baby," "Live Giving Love," "Let Me Be Yours," "Feel Much Better," "Funktafied," and "Don't Let Me Be the Lonely One," among others. In 1986 5 Star received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rhythm and Blues Instrumental Performance for Pearson's composition, "First Avenue," which was the B-side of 5 Star's first hit single "All Fall Down." In 1987 the group won a Brit Award for Best British Group. They disbanded in 2006. After moving to California with her family in the early 1990s, Denise married a racing driver. In 1994 she gave birth to a son, Karan Saneinia, followed by a daughter, Hassa Alexis Saneinia a year later.

Baird is from St Louis, MO, where he started dancing on the neighborhood street corners. Moving to Los Angeles in 1996, he went on to dance in concerts and videos with Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Tina Turner, among many other top artists. He has choreographed for Mya, winning a Best Choreography Award for the U.S. Top 20 hit "My Love is Like... Wo." Thriller Live, which pays tribute to the musical hits and career of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, has previously enjoyed three U.K. tours as well as engagements in Germany, Holland and Scandinavia.

Billed as a spectacular, high-octane show specially created to celebrate the career of the "world's greatest entertainer and undisputed King of Pop," the show's performance schedule will include two Sunday showings every week at 3 and 7 PM, as well as Tuesday-Saturday evening performances at 8 PM and an additional Saturday matinee at 4 PM.

The West End season is being produced by Paul Walden and Derek Nicol for Flying Music, and Sony BMG Music Entertainment UK in association with Adrian Grant for Key Concerts.

In a press statement, producer Nicol of Flying Music said, "Thriller Live is an uplifting, feel-good show with incredible choreography and sensational songs that everyone knows and loves — it's just the sort of escapist entertainment people need to take their minds off how tough life is at the moment. Thriller Live has high production values, a large company on stage and a live band — and it delivers high class entertainment that is suitable for everyone from 8 to 80. It's obvious to us from the recent early closing of West End musicals, cancellation of several planned UK tours, and the number of ticket discounts and promotions, that money is extremely tight and a lot of the current shows are struggling to fill their theatres. We want to make sure that Thriller Live is in the price bracket of as many people as possible."

Paul Curran of Sony BMG Music Entertainment UK, added, "The show is a celebration of one of the greatest music catalogues in history. We are thrilled to be involved and there are obviously many promotional and marketing opportunities between the show and our catalogue."

Songs that will be heard in the show include "I Want You Back," "I'll Be There," "Show You The Way To Go," "Can You Feel It," "Rock With You," "She's Out Of My Life," "Thriller," "Beat It," "Ben," "ABC," "Man in the Mirror," "Dirty Diana," "Billie Jean" and "Earth Song".

The production was originally conceived and created by executive director Adrian Grant, a long-time associate of Jackson's and author of "Michael Jackson – The Visual Documentary." It is directed and choreographed by Gary Lloyd (who has previously worked with Leona Lewis, Will Young, Gareth Gates, Emma Bunton, Robbie Williams, Pink, Anastacia, Lemar, Rachel Stevens, Kelly Clarkson and Girls Aloud) and features additional choreography by five-time MTV award-winning LaVelle Smith Jnr. and Kerys Nathan.

To book tickets contact the box office at 0844 412 4661 or visit www.nimaxtheatres.com/thriller.