A photocall was held at the Lyric theatre this morning to announce the three boys who will share the role of the young Michael Jackson in the forthcoming West End run of concert show Thriller – Live.

Layton Williams, who was the first black Billy Elliot, Sterling Williams, who recently played young Simba in The Lion King and newcomer Kieran Alleyne, who was cast through open auditions, will rotate in the role for the duration of the show’s 14 week run, which kicks off on 21 January 2009 (previews from 2 January).

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com at today’s event, 13-year old Layton Williams said: “It’s a big relief that I don’t have to return to normality after finishing as Billy (Elliot). I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson so I can’t wait to get started.” Williams and the other boys performed a section of Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back”, replete with disco dance moves, for the gathered press.

Musical director John Maher said the boys, who only met for the first time yesterday, “cast themselves”, and revealed that the West End run will include several songs that haven’t featured in the show’s three regional tours, including “Off the Wall”, “Remember the Time” and “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)”.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF THE THRILLER LIVE PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE \"NEXT >\" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.
PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

Thriller – Live includes Michael Jackson and Jackson Five 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. The show received a one-off West End try-out at the Dominion Theatre in 2006 and has subsequently had three UK-wide tours (See News, 28 Mar 2007).

The show was originally conceived and created by long-time Jackson associate Adrian Grant. It’s directed by Gary Lloyd, who has also choreographed it with additional choreography by LaVelle Smith Jr and Kerys Nathan. It’s produced by Flying Music, which has previously had success with compilation musicals including The Rat Pack and Dancing in the Streets.

The weekly schedule for the new self-styled “family-friendly” show will include two Sunday performances for the first time in the West End, with top-price tickets capped at £49.50. Current Lyric resident Eddie Izzard finishes his stand-up show Stripped on 12 December.

- By Theo Bosanquet