By Marita Phenix, NCTJ Journalism Trainee
FANS of Michael Jackson's music spent their leap year evening wisely, enjoying the Thriller Live tour's opening night at the Darlington Civic Theatre.
The show, which originally premiered in 2009 shortly before Jackson's death, is a fitting tribute to the King of Pop's musical legacy.
Performing with a fantastic live band, Thriller felt authentic and special.
It was one hit song after the other, from the Jackson 5 years to the memorable 90s (and everything in between).
This truly was an ensemble cast, with the five lead singers taking turns to shine and do each song justice.
Angelica Allen, Rory Taylor, Michael Kavuma, Shaquille Hemmans and Sean Christopher worked together seamlessly, not only as vocalists, but also narrators of Jackson's story and career.
Christopher, in particular, gave an impressive performance as Michael, capturing his essence through signature dance moves and mannerisms.
I was lucky enough to watch Jackson perform live during his Dangerous World Tour in 1993, and in my opinion, Christopher managed to successfully bring him back to life for the show.
Another stand-out star was Allen, whose breathtaking female vocals gave the show an exciting edge.
At times, I felt the physical exuberance of the dancers looked slightly hampered, due to the cramped stage setting.
They made up for this with their sheer talent and energetic interaction with the crowd.
The show benefits from some stunning production elements, including video film segments and special visual effects (not to give anything away).
The true star of the show, of course, were the songs. In just two short hours, the audience were taken on a foot-tapping whistle-stop tour of Jackson's greatest hits.
Memorable moments included a rousing performance of 'They Don't Care About Us', the iconic 'Smooth Criminal' lean, and the visual treat of the 'Thriller' costumes and dance. Thriller Live is a joyous celebration of Michael Jackson's music, from a talented cast and production.
If you want to watch a show that makes you happy and leaves you singing for days, you just can't beat it.
Thriller Live runs until March 5. Contact the Box Office at 01325 486555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk