To celebrate Ultimate Thriller – A Tribute to Michael Jackson, Time Out Bahrain talks to the choreographer and producer
Time Out Bahrain staff
What was the motivation behind creating this tour? RH: Michael’s music spans so many generations. His passion, spirit and love are something that we gravitate toward. I could think of nothing better than to pay respect by playing his music to the world so we can keep his spirit alive.
How many of the show’s performers have connections to Jackson?
RH: I think almost everyone in the cast has a Michael Jackson story. I myself had the opportunity to play for him in the mid-eighties while he and his family were vacationing at Disney. The hotel closed the pool area and we got to play for them. The funny part of the story is, when the day was done and we were on our way to store our gear for the night, I literally ran right into him in one of the back hallways. It was a very awkward moment, but he was kind and generous and it was over before I knew it.
Mic, how long did you work with Michael?
MT: I am a former Michael Jackson dancer, and performed Michael’s 1990’s songs. While working with Michael Jackson I experienced nothing but the best the entertainment world can offer. His talent made everyone stop, watch and listen while he practiced and rehearsed his songs.
How authentic is the re-creation of the dances compared to Jackson’s work? RH: We have re-created his dance routines as authentically as possible. One of the greatest tools we have is our choreographer, Mic Thompson. He was one of Michael’s principal dancers for many years.
How did you find your Michael look-a-like? RH: We went on a nationwide search to find the best Michael Jackson we could find. Not only were we looking for someone with a strong resemblance to Michael, but we wanted him to be a vocalist as well. Our Michael needs to sing everything 100 percent live. There is no lip-syncing. We auditioned dozens of people and once we found Tej’ai, we knew we had a match.
MT: In my own opinion, I believe Tej’ai is the best in the business as a Michael Jackson tribute performer. His skills re-create a vibe, energy and style very similar to Michael Jackson. Plus his kindness and professional mannerisms are very impressive to me. I like to watch him perform because he is the TOPS.
What songs are covered in the show? RH: We are playing music from his ‘Bad’ and ‘Dangerous’ tours. This covers all of his greatest hits, including ‘Billie Jean,’ ‘Thriller, ‘Beat it,’ ‘Man in the Mirror,’ ‘Shake Your Body,’ ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,’ and many others.
Michael Jackson transformed not only popular music but also modern culture. But while listening to the music is one thing, Jackson’s music was written to be performed. The Ultimate Thriller brings together one of the world’s most-celebrated Michael Jackson impersonators, along with four musicians, two background singers and four dancers.
Choreographed by Jackson’s principle dancer of nine years, Mic Thompson (Jackson once called him ‘my white shadow’), the show is gearing up to be as close to a Jackson concert as we are now ever likely to get. Running on May 13 and 14 at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre, tickets are priced between BD20-60, with discounts for those under 12. For more information, visit www.eventionsbahrain.com/thriller
HIStory – The life of MJ
1958: On August 29, born in Gary Indiana, the seventh child of nine born to steelworker Joe Jackson and his wife Katherine 1968: The Jackson 5, featuring Michael Jackson and four of his siblings, are signed to Motown Records
1970: The Jackson 5 top the US Billboard Charts with their first single, ‘I Want You Back’. They had three more number ones that year. Jackson was just 12 years old
1971: At the age of 13 Jackson goes solo, with the single ‘Got To Be There’
1978: A starring role in the film The Wiz introduced Jackson to producer Quincy Jones, who later went on to produce some of Jackson’s best-known work
1979: August 5 Off the Wall was released, a landmark in Jackson’s career
1982: The world’s best-selling album Thriller was released 1983: Jackson unveils his moonwalk
1987: Bad is released
1993: Michael Jackson receives the Living Legend Award at the annual Grammy Awards
1994: Marriage to Lisa Marie Presley
2001: Jackson is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2005: Michael Jackson moves to Bahrain
2009: June 25, Jackson dies in LA while researsing for the This Is It tour