WHEN David Julien saw the schedule for Thriller Live’s national tour he knew what he wanted to do - he wanted to bring the show home to Manchester.

Currently starring in the hit production in London’s West End, something he has been doing for the past two years, he surprised the producers by asking if he could, for one week only, swap the Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue for the Palace Theatre on Oxford Road. And they agreed.

“It’s just something that I had to try and do,” said David who was born in Tyldesley. “I wanted to show everybody that can’t get down to London and the West End what I’m actually doing because some people don’t get it. I was delighted when they agreed to let me come.

“I’m literally going to be swapping places next week with the performer who is playing my character on the national tour for the week. After that I’m back on in the West End.”

Thriller Live has become one of the most popular shows in London’s theatreland. It’s a celebration of the music of Michael Jackson and features four singers performing his hits with a live band, some spectacular dance routines and stunning lighting.

“It’s just one great big celebration of his music,” said David. “In the show I kind of do the more rockier songs so I wear the leather and the studs. My solo numbers include Beat It, Dirty Diana, She’s Out of My Life and a lesser known song This Place Hotel.

“All four of us combine on Bad and I also get to sing on Earth Song and Man in the Mirror.”

For David, the chance to sing some of the greatest pop songs of all time every night is something of a dream come true.

“I loved Michael Jackson when I was growing up,” he said. “Thriller was the first album I ever bought.”

But although he was a fan, it was not until he got the part in the show that David fully appreciated Michael Jackson’s musical genius.

“As a singer you can always appreciate someone’s talent but it’s not until you get into a show like this and you get into the nitty gritty of it that the full picture emerges,” he said. “Our musical director is so specific about what’s required and it's not until you listen to it with those kind of ears that it really opens up to you and you start to hear how much of a genius this guy actually was. It wasn’t just luck that helped him get where he did!”

As if performing some of Michael Jackson’s best know hits wasn’t hard enough, David also has to master the dance routines too.

“On Beat It that’s a tough one,” he said. “Having done eight shows a week for two years means I’m in the best shape of my life, that’s for sure. But you just appreciate his skill - it’s on another level.”

Although a celebration of Michael Jackson’s music, none of the performers are trying to do an impression of him. One of the four singers is a female vocalist because, as David puts it “MJ could sing quite high some times”.

“We are trying to present the songs as authentically as we can but we are not trying to do an impression” he said. “We all perform the songs as ourselves but do them in the way that Michael Jackson did. Some of the things he did in a song you can’t help but copy because they are actually in there to help you sing it, they were not for affectation.”

If David appears familiar it may be because he appeared in the very first series of the TV talent show The Voice when it was on BBC1. At his live audition he got both Will.i.Am and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue to turn their chairs round for him. David opted to be part of Danny’s team but was knocked out of the contest in the live finals.

“I didn’t expect fame and fortune from the TV show,” he said. “That wasn’t the reason I went on it. I was just looking for something that would act as a springboard and perhaps open a few doors for me and here I am.”

It could have been all so different had David followed his intended career path.

“I went to Winstanley College and while I was there I was planning on being a doctor,” he said. “I took biology, chemistry and psychology and did performing arts as a bit of a fun subject because I knew I could sing and I was going to enjoy it. But it turned out that I was better at that than anything else!”

After college, David formed his own band and had some success on the local scene before he auditioned for The Voice.

“Busking on the streets of Leigh was never going to be life changing,” he said. “I just needed to do something myself and see where it would take me.”

That journey has certainly been worthwhile and led to him being part of one of the hottest tickets in the West End for the past two years.

Any mention of Michael Jackson does raise the issue of the singer’s controversial private life but David is quite clear about where Thriller Live stands on this.

“The show is about the songs,” he said “It’s a celebration of the music and how good it was and still is.”

And now a Manchester audience will get to experience that for themselves.

“I can’t quite believe I’m getting the chance to bring the show home. Hopefully it will now make sense to my friends why I’ve been spending all my time in London for the past couple of years.”

Thriller Live, Palace Theatre, Manchester, Monday, February 10 to Saturday, February 15. Details from www.atgtickets.com