The Michael Jackson Musical: 'MJ'

CherubimII

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Broadway: “Wicked” Gets COVID, Cancels Performances,

“MJ Michael Jackson Musical” Gets 3 Standing Ovations 🤗

by Roger Friedman - December 5, 2021 1:23 pm

Meanwhile, good news from “MJ The Michael Jackson Musical.” The dress rehearsal Saturday night, I’m told, was such a success that there were THREE standing ovations during the show. First preview is this week, and the opening is in February. Everyone is hoping for a success here, and it’s looking good so far, I will try and sneak in this month and take an early look.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I’m just waking up from a Michael Jackson fever dream. OMG I JUST SAW <a href="https://twitter.com/MJtheMusical?ref_src=twsrc^tfw">@MJtheMusical</a> dress rehearsal and it was INCREDIBLE!!! My mind was blown! Run and get a ticket. You won’t be able to get one when everyone finds out! <a href="https://t.co/gNRLAj2DX9">pic.twitter.com/gNRLAj2DX9</a></p>&mdash; Marisha Wallace (@marishawallace) <a href=" ">December 5, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
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ssj

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In my opinion it is weird that the show takes place in 1992 but MJ is rehearsing songs released in 1995 like Money, Stranger In Moscow and They Don't Care About Us. Why they didn't just place to show during the HIStory World Tour rehearsals instead??
Well, we don't know exactly how the songs are implemented into the narrative, maybe they are performed as part of Michael's inner monologue or something.
 

CherubimII

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Zack44

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In my opinion it is weird that the show takes place in 1992 but MJ is rehearsing songs released in 1995 like Money, Stranger In Moscow and They Don't Care About Us. Why they didn't just place to show during the HIStory World Tour rehearsals instead??

Well, the show is supposed to be set during the Dangerous Tour, and Michael did write Stranger In Moscow in the middle of that tour shortly after the '93 allegations first came up.

I have no idea if the show will actually mention the allegations or not, but it would make sense for Stranger In Moscow to be included into the plot in that way. Personally I hope they don't go there. The allegations don't need any more unnecessary attention from the general public than it already has.
 

8701girl

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Well, the show is supposed to be set during the Dangerous Tour, and Michael did write Stranger In Moscow in the middle of that tour shortly after the '93 allegations first came up.

I have no idea if the show will actually mention the allegations or not, but it would make sense for Stranger In Moscow to be included into the plot in that way. Personally I hope they don't go there. The allegations don't need any more unnecessary attention from the general public than it already has.
My mate told the musical wont go anywhere near the alleagations whatsoever
 

Hess

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In my opinion it is weird that the show takes place in 1992 but MJ is rehearsing songs released in 1995 like Money, Stranger In Moscow and They Don't Care About Us. Why they didn't just place to show during the HIStory World Tour rehearsals instead??

I was about to write this. - The show follows MJ's preparation for Dangerous tour??

Some of the songs on the posters are HIStory songs - that's a bit strange. BUT - great great songs and most people will never know.

I just hope the show gets great reviews and sells a lot of tickets and all who sees it has a great time - then the show is a success.
 

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tn-500_mj.jpeg

Myles Frost as Michael Jackson
 
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CherubimII

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OnirMJ

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Well, the show is supposed to be set during the Dangerous Tour, and Michael did write Stranger In Moscow in the middle of that tour shortly after the '93 allegations first came up.

I have no idea if the show will actually mention the allegations or not, but it would make sense for Stranger In Moscow to be included into the plot in that way. Personally I hope they don't go there. The allegations don't need any more unnecessary attention from the general public than it already has.
The plot takes place in 1992 (rehearsals for 1st leg) so Stranger In Moscow doesn't exist yet. And even if it is 1993, 2 Bad and Money don't exist until 1994/1995.

It was confirmed by the people who saw the dressed rehearsals that they do mention the allegations (briefly but they do). Which is weird because of the year.
 

Paris78

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chadkrausphoto

Theater Review: MJ The Musical. I began this journey over 2 years ago when I photographed workshops. Then Covid hit. Fast forward to June 2021 and rehearsals with Myles Frost (eldest Michael). Then to last night when I witnessed the full production at the final invited dress rehearsal.

In a single word: INCREDIBLE.

In some more words: Thrilling. Awesome. Spectacular. OMG.

Myles Frost makes his Broadway debut (in fact this is is very first professional theater debut of any kind) in a performance that will leave you breathless. To have personally witnessed his transformation in just 5 months is astonishing. The "young Michael" and "middle Michael" are fantastic. The ensemble is oozing with talent.

The amount of talent and energy from the entire cast that is on stage at the Neil Simon Theater is overflowing across the proscenium. The choreography and dancing is something truly special to behold.

At the same time, this piece explores the intense struggle and demons that MJ encountered in facing his childhood and his relationship with his abusive father. There is no doubt that the brutal emotional and physical abuse he faced was a major influence in his life and work. And that influence finds its way into an amazing melting of the past into MJ's vision of "Thriller." One could even interpret the monsters, demons, and ghouls in "Thriller" actually being Michael's father. Dramatic stuff that culminated in possibly the best number in the show.

The production's creative team of choreography, direction, lighting, sets and stage management all come together to form something truly special on the Broadway stage.

Something I have never witnessed at a Broadway show: at least 3 standing ovations mid-show. Each lasting 2 minutes or more. And then a solid 5 minutes of the entire audience up dancing and singing during the curtain call mash-up of MJ music.

1st preview goes up tomorrow night (Monday) and Opening Night is February 1st. Buy your tickets now! You won't be sorry. In fact, the only regret you would have would be to not see this fabulous production.
 

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I haven’t posted here in years, but hi everyone! I just picked up the last available ticket for tonight‘s first performance at the box office (so I officially sold out the show lol). Excited to see and hear what’s in store!
 

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I haven’t posted here in years, but hi everyone! I just picked up the last available ticket for tonight‘s first performance at the box office (so I officially sold out the show lol). Excited to see and hear what’s in store!
Please post your review here afterwards! And please explain us the timeline :) Thanks!
 

rpvee

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In line for the first preview! The line goes down 52nd from the theatre, around the corner down 9th, and around the corner again down 51st. Finally starting to move forward just as some rain is starting. The hype is real!
 

rpvee

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Some cast is walking around the stage behind a transparent screen that has some handwritten lyrics. They’re acting as if they’re arriving for a rehearsal (since most of the show reportedly takes place in MJ’s studio). Love before-the-show kind of stuff.
 

rpvee

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Really interesting so far! The show balances between showing the creative process of the 1992 Dangerous Tour rehearsals (though a lot of the cast is dressed a bit too modern, especially the MTV reporter), and showing us the progressing of MJ’s career from the beginnings of the Jackson 5 through Thriller (Bad is mentioned in a sentence at the end of the Thriller medley showing that era, but so far seems oddly glossed over - maybe they’ll go back to it in Act 2).
The transitions between past and “present” (1992) are done via topics brought up in the interview between MJ and the reporter. The cast doubles between being MJ’s crew and figures from his past, which creates some very interesting moments (especially Rob the tour manager sometimes being an echo of MJ’s dad Joe, who he also plays - MJ’s dad trauma definitely gets touched on often to show the pressure he feels about the tour).

Some songs are done via rehearsal (though surprisingly not many), some are done as live performances during the scenes set in the past, and some are used in a more traditional musical way as a way of conveying how a character is feeling in the moment (which works in some ways, but other songs like Stranger In Moscow feel a bit awkwardly squeezed in). The latter is how songs from eras after Dangerous are able to be included in the show.

Everyone is giving stellar performances. All three MJ’s - child, 20-something, present - are amazing, with leading man Myles really nailing his voice and mannerisms. The actor playing child MJ is also quite extraordinary, but really, all three shine.

Excited for act two to see how much more of the past gets explored, and also how they fit in songs whose eras already passed in the narrative like Billie Jean and Thriller. Joe’s character sometimes echoes Thriller in his laugh and the music under him, so I’m curious to see how that really gets explored later (if it does at all).

Bring on act two! Will post more thoughts and the track list after (not spoiling myself!).
 

rpvee

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Wow, lots to unpack. Here are my thoughts on Act 2, and the show as a whole, as a continuation of my last post.


I think Act 2 was weaker than Act 1 and showed the general weakness of the show’s plot. The show’s story threads as a whole can be broken down into:

-An MTV reporter and her fanboy cameraman (who doesn’t do much to be honest) get permission to film two days of rehearsals for MJ’s 1992 Dangerous Tour, but she wants more of an inside scoop than just rehearsals. She wants drama.

-MJ is haunted by PTSD from his father’s career-long abuse in the name of making his sons perfect performers, consequently causing MJ to want nothing but perfection in the Dangerous Tour, even if at his own mental expense and possible bankruptcy.

-MJ’s tour directors are frustrated by his perfectionist-to-a-fault nature as they try to reason with him, while also concerned about his addiction to painkillers caused by the infamous 80’s Pepsi commercial accident where he suffered terrible scalp burns.

-Like I said in my first post, as the MTV reporter questions MJ throughout the show, the show uses his answers as segues to both go through his career from childhood to present and to show his father continually haunting him to be perfect.

The only issue is, these plots don’t entirely resolve. In the order of the above plot threads (some spoilers):

-The reporter overhears the managers talking about MJ’s painkiller addiction and is thrilled to have the scoop she wanted, but she soon bonds with MJ when he shows her how he sees the world via the song “Human Nature” (featuring a strange Hollywood paradise realm - I didn’t entirely understand what they were going for with it). Yet, near the show’s end, the reporter tells MJ that she needs to be honest in her MTV piece and that he needs to expect what’s coming. As far as the show implies by the end, MJ is still addicted and will get exposed on MTV by the reporter…?

-MJ’s father haunting him is the only thread that gets real resolution. It culminates in “Thriller”, which takes place in a wild literal circus in MJ’s mind that has his father become a dark circus master controlling him as a puppet, with zombies in decayed MJ costumes crawling around them. This ends with MJ facing a projection of his father’s glowing eyes on a big curtain, which he tears down - seemingly overcoming his father’s ever-looming pressure to be perfect as reality returns around him.

-As the culmination of the directors’ financial worries, MJ decides to mortgage his (in)famous Neverland Ranch to help fund the tour. He’s warned repeatedly that if the tour fails, he’s done for after such a risky move. This is never addressed again. The show ends with the launch of the Dangerous Tour, and I guess the audience is meant to assume all went well and he made the money he needed - but that happy ending isn’t done in a way that I’d say it felt wrapped up.

Generally, the show could use some tightening and clarifications story-wise, but there’s no denying the talent at hand, especially that of lead man Myles in his Broadway debut. His MJ impression, both in behavior and singing, is off the charts. The rest of the cast was stellar too, especially Ayana George as MJ’s mother (her duet with child MJ after his father first hits him, “I’ll Be There”, was incredibly heartwarming and her voice was insanely good).

Like I mentioned in my earlier post, some songs seemed squeezed in just to be there. A surprising number of them were used to convey a character’s feelings rather than being performed in the real-world moment, but they didn’t always entirely land, like “Stranger in Moscow”, which felt rather abrupt to show that MJ was feeling frustrated. But when those kinds of numbers did land, they made for some really interesting moments, like a mashup of “Earth Song” and “They Don’t Care About Us” during a press conference that had MJ try to bring attention to climate issues while the press only nagged him with tabloid-esque questions (this ended Act 1). Another neat example was the use of relatively deep cut “Money” as the Jackson family pressured MJ to join the Victory Tour.

Otherwise, songs were presented as performances in scenes set in the past, or as rehearsals in the “present”. Usually this worked well enough, but the very beginning of Act 2 was arguably the weakest moment story-wise because it was a rehearsal moment that was there purely just for show, without any insight into the tour’s development like the other rehearsal numbers had. It began with MJ rehearsing “Billie Jean”, which drove the crowd wild (and boy did we all go wild several times thanks to the stellar performances), but the song was cut surprisingly short (and sorely lacked the iconic drum-only dance solo that would traditionally end the song live on MJ’s actual tours). Then the brief “Billie Jean” transitioned into a tribute to some artists who inspired MJ. That tribute then evolved into a full performance of “Smooth Criminal” - which I think should’ve been shortened to allow Billie Jean to be longer - with the set transforming into a city street full of neon signs. I had a suspicion as to how all this theatricality would fit into the story, and sure enough, when the song ended, the tour managers came out to say “yeah, we can’t afford this” as the neon signs flickered out and were pulled away. A 10-ish minute theatrical intro to Act 2 was nothing but MJ’s budget fantasy, for the pure sake of having a theatrical moment that didn’t evolve the story. It felt like a very weak way to include those two classic songs and a grandiose set (one they’ve already promoted in photos).

Anyway, sorry for the long post. As a whole, this is definitely worth seeing for the performances, some amazing choreography, incredible audience energy, and solid arrangements of classic songs. But I do think the story needs tightening and more motivation, some outfits were too modern, and the reasoning for some songs’ inclusion should be more polished (and “Billie Jean” needs to be longer, at least with the famous dance solo). It was also disappointing that my favorite song, “Black Or White” (the biggest hit of the Dangerous era, I might add) was only used as part of the curtain call medley, though at least most of the song was used. Lastly, I think the music was way louder than a normal Broadway show and could’ve been lowered considerably.

It was a super fun time as a whole, and I’m excited to see how the show develops.

I’m sure more thoughts will come to me, but for now, that’s all, folks!
 
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