Party guests can get a thrill at an upcoming Halloween party featuring one of the original dancers from the iconic Michael Jackson music video "Thriller."
Fort Myers resident Dr. Cheryl Sington is featured to the right of Michael Jackson himself as "The Zombie Bride" in what is known as one of the top-selling music videos of all time.
Today she is the owner of and a dance instructor at The Dance Warehouse. She and a troupe of her dancers will perform her famous dance in the Dolphin Club at Capt'n Fishbones Restaurant in The Shell Factory in North Fort Myers at a Halloween party on Friday, Oct. 22.
SPECIAL TO THE NEIGHBOR
Cheryl Sington today in her Fort Myers dance studio.
"Cheryl and her dancers will come in costume and be featured on our stage during the party," said Fishbones' Manager and Shell Factory Food and Beverage Director Stone Pilkenton. "It is amazing to have a person of that talent in the area that is willing to share this memorable experience with all of us in North Fort Myers."
Sington, who has a doctorate in psychology, recently recounted what was like to be part of the pop phenomenon, a more than a memorable experience.
She said she was in a touring company of "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" when a call came. She and other dancers were in Los Angeles, where she lived at the time, and were told to report for an audition.
But little did she know what the next several months would bring, and include her in a part of pop history.
"No one knew what we were getting into at the time, it was a first," she said, from her comfortable dance studio in Fort Myers.
Directed by another icon, John Landis, and featuring horror legend Vincent Price as the narrator, the first-of-its kind video was more than an adventure, she said.
"We worked on the dance for six weeks. Michael Jackson himself came up with idea, and was a perfectionist. But he was also very nice. He would talk to you if he needed to."
She said it was a combination of hard work and fun, but also intimidating and scary at the same time. "Nothing like this video had ever been done. We were changing the world of entertainment."
No one knew what to expect, she said. "It also included dancers, which was completely new. It was cutting edge."
There were long days, she said. "It took two to four hours just to put on the makeup." She was "The Zombie Bride" - a prominent figure in the video - up front and directly to Jackson's right. "But nobody cared who was out front."
She said Jackson was different than he appeared to be in the media. "His voice was actually much lower when he talked to you, and at that time he was already wearing masks. Though the odd thing to me was that he would have his chimp on his shoulder, and they would share food and drinks."
The 14-minute music video for the song of the same name was released on December 2, 1983, directed by Landis. "Michael was impressed because he had directed "An American Werewolf In London," Sington said.
A few years ago she appeared with Landis at a horror buff convention in Orlando, where many came to see the two because of their "Thriller" connection. "That was a lot of fun with John."
She noted that Vincent Price, who was the spooky narrator, also did a quick cameo at the end as a zombie. "He was also very nice, we saw him around the set."
When Jackson passed away, she said, "It was a shock. I was in New York, and my daughter called to say there were many newspeople on my lawn." They wanted to get her reaction as a local that knew Jackson.
"Thriller" went on to be part of The Guinness Book of World Records, which listed it in 2006 as the "most successful music video", selling over 9 million units. In 2009, the video was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, the first music video to ever receive that honor, officially inducted for what officials dubbed culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
It also won both Grammy and MTV awards throughout the 1980's.
"No one knew it would be that big," Sington said.
Sington is no stranger to celebrities. She's danced throughout the United States, Canada and Europe during her time as a professional dancer and has studied with world-renown choreographers, teachers, artists and directors such as Mel Brooks, Jaime Rogers, Natalie Cole and Doug Caldwell, to name a few.
She's been a dancer, dance instructor, a director, a choreographer and a judge in dance competitions across the U.S. and abroad.
She's also an actress, and has appeared in commercials, television and film. She's had roles on Days of our Lives, Young and the Restless, Roseanne, History of the World Part 1 and 2, among others.
Today she teaches master classes in jazz, tap, lyrical, strengthening and core training, musical theater and acting.
Sington said she is looking forward to appearing at the Dolphin Room bash.
"We're also going to have a costume contest and elaborate decorations," said Pilkenton of the party. "There will also be gifts and gift drawings from the Shell Factory and drink specials. We're going to open at 7 p.m. and it will go at least until 11 p.m."
He noted this is an adult party; only for those over 21. Admission is $5.
He suggests calling for reservations.
"It is a week before the actual Halloween weekend, a great way to kick off the holiday."
The Dolphin Room is within Capt'n Fishbones Seafood Grill, in the Shell Factory at 2787 North Tamiami Trail. For information call 995-3999 Pilkenton direct at 462-4689.