Perfect replication of show lacking in spontaneity

Michael Jackson — HIStory, Regent Theatre, February 16.

HIStory filled the stalls of the Regent Theatre on Friday evening. A few of the younger members of the audience wore Michael Jackson’s signature regalia, the silver glove, the trilby, bomber jacket and sunglasses. Piped music by Sting and others accompanied by a heavy bass beat set the mood.

The dancers opened the show. Slick perfection in sharp short moves instantly wowed the audience before Jackson’s brilliance lit the limelight.

Everything was a perfect replication of every one of Michael Jackson’s stage moves including the much touted moon walk, crotch grabs and hat tilts. All set the audience alight. The singing was pretty slick, too.

Garth Field, of Cape Town, is certainly an excellent artist able to perform the King of Pop’s dance moves and use his trained alto voice over its full range with easy stamina.

Songs including BadBeat itBillie Jean and the now troubling Man in the Mirror got the audience jiggling in their seats but, despite encouragement from Field, most were happy to stay there. A chance to touch the clothes and the hand of Field, aka MJ, delighted many.

What the 10-year-old production lost to perfection was spontaneity.

Field, this year’s lead, is brilliantly faithful to the King of Pop, but the performance has become automated, even audience interactions are replicated.

Field lacks Jackson’s graceful stature and the costumes seem well worn and a little ill-fitting. It was the four dancers’ energy, athleticism, acrobatic moves and timing which stole the show.

The back-up singer and band, particularly the lead guitarist, were also well honed but, except for an unintelligible shout out on stage, these essential components to the entertainment remain uncredited.

Given their artistry, this is as close to Bad as it gets.

The show is both cringe-worthy and mind-blowing — like the King of Pop himself.