As the resident director of Thriller Live UK tour 2017, Britt Quentin is still a main actor in the show’s promotion. During their week in Bath, he gave an interview to Claire Cavanagh. Again, the same topics about Michael Jackson remain but each encounter with a journalist reveals something more. Listen again to the whole interview of Britt Quentin for BBC Radio Bristol and read it on this page!
In this new interview with Claire Cavanagh given on November 29th, Britt Quentin talks a lot about Michael Jackson’s career. The story starts from the Jackson 5 until the encounter between the King of Pop and Thriller Live’s creator: Adrian Grant. He also explains again his connection to Michael Jackson’s music while he was young. And you’ll realize that his striking resemblance with MJ is nothing new! Then Britt Quentin gives many details of his specific role as a resident director of a touring show like Thriller Live which is quite different than in the west end. Finally, if you can feel the dancer spirit in you, you can try to practice moonwalk, based on his tips! Good luck!
Western England hosting various Michael Jackson’s tribute shows
– Claire Cavanagh: I think you’ve already done the show in Bath. How did it go?
– Britt Quentin: Really well. We’ve done 2 shows so far and it’s been really great.
– Claire Cavanagh: Tell us about how far back the creation of the show went, when did you start doing it?
– Britt Quentin: I started about 8 years ago. The show has been going on for a little bit more than 10 years. But I started 8 years ago in the west end. And I started doing the tour about just over a year ago.
– Claire Cavanagh: Is it quite strange that there is more than one Michael Jackson based show going around the west country? (Currently another show named « Jacksons – Live » is running too)
– Britt Quentin: I’ve heard of the other show but I haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully we can catch up with them one day and we can maybe watch each other show someday.
– Claire Cavanagh: So you’re not bitter rivals!
– Britt Quentin: Not at all! There is enough to go around I think!
– Claire Cavanagh: No banana skins on the stage then?
– Britt Quentin: Although, I don’t know, you know we’ve been used to do some crazy things sometimes!
– Claire Cavanagh: Tell us what we will see and hear if we come to see this show. Because of course Jackson’s music and his legacy is phenomenal, isn’t it?
– Britt Quentin: It really is. It’s a large shoes to fill. Our show is a celebration of his music, his artistry, his legacy, his iconic dance moves and music videos. That’s what our show is about. It’s a feel good show. We just celebrate his music. There is no real story line or anything like that. It’s just the music and us bringing to the stage some of his more iconic music videos. And it’s a concert. It feels like you had a Michael Jackson’s tribute concert. That’s the format of the show.
An encounter with Michael Jackson
– Claire Cavanagh: Did you get to see the man himself while he was still alive?
– Britt Quentin: I did not. Although the creator of the show Adrian Grant is a long time friend of Michael. So Adrian has met Michael a few times but I have not.
– Claire Cavanagh: And how did he get to meet him? What was that moment like?
– Britt Quentin: I’ve spoken to Adrian about this a couple of times. Adrian was the creator of a Michael Jackson’s UK based fan club. He started a magazine and somehow Michael got a hold of the magazine and asked to meet Adrian. So Adrian has flown to California, met up with Michael at the ranch. They became friends and then Adrian decided to create a show.
From the Jackson 5 to Michael Jackson
– Claire Cavanagh: Wow! That’s pretty incredible! Now as far as fandom goes, how big a fan are you or not, not only Michael Jackson but also the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons which is another incarnation of the Jacksons?
– Britt Quentin: For me, when I was young, I adored Michael Jackson. And then I went through a phase – probably a good decade – where I didn’t want to listen to Michael that much because everybody compared me to him so much. Every time I would sing they were saying: « Oh you sing just like Michael Jackson ». I was just being on the road or walking down the street and somebody was saying: « Oh you look just like Michael Jackson ». So I think for a period of time I just wanted to be myself and did not want to be compared. And then I realized it was more a compliment than anything else. So I kind of embrassed it. In every performance or in every band I’ve ever been I’ve always been the guy that sings all the Michael Jackson songs. And now I’m making a living at it so it’s great. I just embrassed it now.
– Claire Cavanagh: I’m really interested in how easy or hard his songs are to perform?
– Britt Quentin: I think particularly for a male it’s difficult because Michael had an incredible freakish high voice. And for men it’s difficult because they’re generally lower than women. I think women find it easier to sing because Michael usually sang in a woman range. So unless you have a naturally high voice yourself which thankfully I can do, it can be very difficult to sing his music. And you can’t just stand and sing Michael Jackson’s music. You have to dance around and do these other things. That can add another layer of difficulty doing it as well.
– Claire Cavanagh: Can you recognize the style of his song writing and its music writing? Is there a very definite style to it?
– Britt Quentin: That’s a good question and I actually don’t think so. Because during his career Michael Jackson was pop, he was gospel, he was disco, he was rock,… He was a little bit of everything and I think it would be difficult to categorize him. Even in the show how we pay tribute to Michael it’s sort of broken down and it’s almost different artistry categories or different genres even. There is a guy who sings all of Michael’s rock songs. He’s considered our rock guy. He sings « Beat it », « Dirty Diana », these kind of songs. I sing more the inspirational songs, some of the disco stuff. It’s broken down like that because it’s just who he was. He wasn’t just a pop guy, he was a little bit of everything.
– Claire Cavanagh: You pointing this out just makes me realize that it’s true. He did so many different genres but you altogether is just Michael Jackson’s music.
– Britt Quentin: Yes, because he was great at everything.
– Claire Cavanagh: By the way Britt, do you know why the Jacksons were called the Jacksons and then at another point they were called the Jackson 5?
– Britt Quentin: I think Jackson 5 was a time in their life when they were young, brand new to the scene. Michael was just a boy when they started out as a group. I think when they became the Jacksons they were older at that time of their life. They were in their teenage years. They had broken away from Motown and they were doing their own things, starting to write their own music. So I think for artistic reasons they wanted to be called the Jacksons. They were simply older.
BBC Radio Brisol broadcasts “Can you feel it”
– Claire Cavanagh: There is something that struck me about « Can you feel it » : the production on it is fabulous isn’t it?
– Britt Quentin: Yes it’s incredible! It’s a very exciting song in fact. We close our first act with that song.
Being the resident director of a touring production
– Claire Cavanagh: Are you the person who gets to select which tracks you do during the show?
– Britt Quentin: No, that’s set by the director of the show, Gary Lloyd. He allocates the tracks and who sings what. That was all done long before I get involved.
– Claire Cavanagh: At what point do you get involved then?
– Britt Quentin: I’m usually working with Gary a little bit when we do cast changes and things like that. But once the show as been set by the director, it’s my job to maintain it. It’s my job to fix things and to make sure there is a certain quality level as set by the director. Obviously we change venues every week so sometimes that create different issues and problems to overcome so it’s my job to sort all those things.
– Claire Cavanagh: Is it quite hard taking it theatre to theatre, cause I imagine this is a pretty big show to put on?
– Britt Quentin: Yes it can be difficult because obviously not every theatre is the same but the show is the same, the set doesn’t really change. It can be difficult but it’s part of the reason why we have a resident director who can come in and says what’s need to be cut or what needs to be changed or what needs to be altered a little bit. Obviously we have a crew, they are fantastic and pretty tough at what they do. So everybody gets on with it. It’s exciting too at the same time: it has its difficulties but it’s also exciting.
– Claire Cavanagh: Is it your first time in Bath?
– Britt Quentin: Yes it is mine. For most of the cast it’s also their first time. More than half of the cast is British but none of them have ever really been here before. They are really excited to come.
– Claire Cavanagh: How have you find it so far?
– Britt Quentin: I think it’s lovely.
How to dance Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk
– Claire Cavanagh: Have you perfected the moonwalk? Do you need to for the show?
– Britt Quentin: In the tracks that I do in the show, luckily I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to perform it in front of people. All of the boy dancers have to do it. And obviously the guy who plays Michael Jackson has to do it as well.
– Claire Cavanagh: Give us one tip about how to do it.
– Britt Quentin: It’s all in the heel to toe technique. There is no real trick. It’s just a motion going from the ball of your foot to the heel of your foot.
– Claire Cavanagh: Thank you so much Britt, it was really great to talk to you. Have a lovely week in Bath! This is going to be fab.
– Britt Quentin: Thank you so much Claire. It was a pleasure to meet you.
You can listen to the full interview of Britt Quentin for BBC Radio Bristol with Claire Cavanagh here (interview starting around 14:00).
© Source photo: Theatre Royal Bath Facebook page