The show's writer and executive director Adrian Grant said this morning: “Words cannot express my deep sense of loss and sadness; I am shocked beyond belief that Michael has died. My full condolences go out to his family - his children, parents, brothers and sisters. The Jackson family have lost a son and a father, and the world has lost one of the greatest entertainers of all time, a true legend.”
“Michael Jackson has been a massive influence in my life - inspiring me to get into the entertainment industry and to produce the best work that I can. I have supported Michael for the past 21 years through my magazines, books and now Thriller - Live, and I will continue to support and promote his legacy via this musical celebration.”
Billed as a concert celebration, the show includes Michael Jackson and Jackson 5 chart-toppers such as “I Want You Back”, “I’ll Be There”, “Earth Song”, “Blame It on the Boogie”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and, of course, the title song, “Thriller” from best-selling albums including Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory.
UPDATE, Fri 26 Jun 2009 @ 3.30pm:
At a press conference held at the Lyric this afternoon, Thriller - Live director Gary Lloyd spoke of the “great shock” the company were feeling in the wake of Jackson's death, but said they wanted to “continue celebrating his music”.
One of the show's performers, Ricko Baird, who worked with Jackson on his “Rock My World” music video, shared his personal memories of the pop legend: “Michael was an extreme perfectionist, very serious about his work, but also a very sensitive spirit, and great fun to be around. I feel honoured to have worked with him.”
Asked whether he felt the stress of Jackson's upcoming UK comeback concerts had been a contributory factor in his death, Baird said: “I don't know for certain, but what I can say is that Michael was a natural performer. To him, performing was like breathing, so I'd say he was likely to be more excited than stressed.”
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, the show's co-producer Paul Walden said: “I heard the news when I got home last night and spent the next four hours glued to the television. I'd compare his death to those of John Lennon and Elvis Presley … Tonight we'll hold a minute's silence before the performance with the entire cast assembled on stage … obviously a few links in the show will have to be altered, but otherwise it'll continue unchanged.”
Several fans were assembled outside the Lyric sporting Jackson t-shirts and many have left floral tributes. Walden said he anticipated the theatre will become a natural focal point for London-based fans.