The Michael Jackson Musical: 'MJ'

Paris78

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FRNe7E1XMAUtbRr

MJ

@MJtheMusical


An honor. Thank you,
@dramaleague
. #MJtheMusical
 

Paris78

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Myles-Frost-pto-by-Matthew-Murphy.webp


  1. At what age did you first discover Michael Jackson and become a fan?

I can’t say there was a specific age, maybe somewhere around four to six? I just grew up listening to his music, along with that of Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire . . . but Michael Jackson stood out.


  1. Is there one song you most enjoy performing in the show?

“Billie Jean.” It has a deep connection to me. The video of it that I did in high school was the beginning of how I got here.


  1. What one line do you deliver as Michael that resonates most with you?

“But is it perfect?” It’s the line I say before performing “Man in the Mirror.” It’s what the show is about and it’s the work ethic of Michael Jackson – striving for perfection. It’s something you can never achieve, but it’s why I try to make each show better, always to be better than the day before.

  1. What’s your favorite MJ move?

That’s hard, because it should be the moon walk, but it’s the side glide. It’s goes different ways and I have more fun doing it.


  1. What three things do you always have in your dressing room?

Water. Music. And a heater – I can’t function in the cold, so I’m always blasting it!


  1. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve gotten from an audience member?

I was doing a scene and someone yelled out, “We love you Michael, we’re here for you.” When I’m on stage I’m always focused on what I’m doing and usually block out everything else, but that was the first time I heard it – and it was so great to hear the love people have for Michael.

Definitely dancing. I was not like the great Michael Jackson, who had a golden voice from age six! But at five, I was on The Spirit of Washington, a DC cruise. I got up on the floor and started dancing – to Michael Jackson. When I looked up, I saw people were all around me, throwing money on the floor!

  1. What’s your earliest creative memory?
I was in a car with my Grandma at five, coming home from church. She was always playing gospel music and she has a piano in her basement. When we got home, I went downstairs and played what I just heard on the car radio. I never had any formal training, I was just messing around, and I played it by ear.

  1. Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career (apart from Michael Jackson)?
Alicia Keys. Her song “Diary” is the first one I learned to completion, not just playing by ear. Between her and Michael, that’s where Myles is. And throw in a little James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

  1. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Silly. Charming. Creative.
 

staywild23

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Yesterday I saw MJ the Musical and it was unbelievable. I have so many thoughts and so much I want to say, as I'm still processing what I feel about all of it. Throughout the entire show I laughed, I cried, I sang, I got full body chills, felt inspired, felt aches of sadness and complete joy... it was a very emotional experience and absolutely one I wish any MJ fan could have!

Since I know many people will never be able to see the show even with a North American tour of the musical next year, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about the performances, musical numbers, and magic of the show. I'm not sure if this is necessary, but I'm adding a spoiler tag for this so anyone not wanting to know about the storyline before seeing it can avoid it.

Story:
As some may know, the story of the musical follows MJ rehearsing for the Dangerous tour. It is a week or so before the first concert and they still aren't ready, primarily because Michael keeps coming up with new ideas that are pushing the budget past its breaking point, all in the pursuit of perfection. This specific issue is brought up throughout the entire show, portraying Michael as someone with a boundless imagination who lives a bit in a fantasy world where everything will be ok if it's magical enough - perfect enough. No matter how many times he is told no, that an idea is too expensive, too big, or too dangerous (the toaster entrance and the rocket man exit are the two examples brought up a lot, which got some laughs from the audience who may or may not have known these ideas would eventually come to fruition), he always found a way to persuade and charm people to see his vision, even if they didn't initially believe in it.

During these rehearsals an MTV crew convinces Michael to let them film some of the rehearsals with the promise they would focus entirely on his music. He is extremely wary and they convince him they will not betray his trust (you can sort of see where this is headed...) so he agrees. As he answers questions, flashbacks to his early days with the Jackson 5 and then the Jacksons flow in and out of the stage in a truly brilliant way. The stage, lights, decor, costumes, everything captures the energy of the late 60s/70s in such a bright, beautiful way. It made me long for a time and culture I have never experienced. But as they show the successes of the Jackson 5, they show the abuse Michael endured - not only physically from his father, but the verbal berating and the constant reminder that if he's not perfect he will be forgotten and lose everything. They show Michael hating Joseph, but bonding with his mom. They show Joseph cheating on Katherine as part of a narrative about Michael's confusion about love. They show his brothers hooking up with girls and him being too shy and embarrassed to do the same (though, I do honestly always wonder how accurate that is).

It becomes clear how much Michael wants to find his own artistic freedom. They cover his journey through The Wiz (very briefly) and meeting Quincy. They don't spend much time at all with Off the Wall which is a little disappointing, but they show his process in composing songs for Thriller and his determination to be taken seriously as a Black artist. This part was really cool because it showed some of the lessons he learned from Quincy, but also what kind of raw, instinctual talent he brought to the composing process. There is a really fun montage of moments through all of this, including his Grammy winnings in 1984 with news footage and voiceover in the background about the success of Thriller. It really felt like a highlight reel of this time and it worked really well.

Back in the current moment, Michael is growing increasingly anxious about a press conference he's announced where he's going to share his plans to donate the proceeds of the tour to Heal the World. All the while he is popping Demerol and several members of his crew and the producer of the tour are expressing concern, mostly to each other, though once or twice to him. He eventually does do the press conference (which I'll talk about below in favorite performances). He also, eventually, agrees to mortgage Neverland to pay for the tour, rather than cut the charitable contribution he wanted to make. So much more happens throughout the entire show that I wish I could talk about, but it would be too much. In the end, the MTV crew basically warns Michael that they saw some stuff about his personal life (his trauma, his pill use) and that they had to report it, and Michael is clearly hurt but not surprised. It demonstrates how much he was willing to believe in the good in people, but how easily and often he was screwed over. We also see everyone around him building him up and telling him how groundbreaking the tour will be and how amazing and imaginative he is, and how he would never sleep, constantly rehearsing and changing things... basically how much he didn't believe them. I believe his final spoken line of the show was "but is it perfect?" which lands really powerfully after a full show of spectacular talent which he constantly undermined with self-doubt and flashbacks to his father's words in his ear.

The show actually ends with Michael being ejected through the floor just how he started the Dangerous tour and a full cast performance of Jam eventually morphing into Black or White. It's amazing to see this whole part because throughout the entire show Michael is told the toaster is impossible and it won't happen and it just feels so exciting to see it finally come to be. Also, Black or White is so high energy and timely and exciting. The whole audience was on their feet for it. That happened several times actually. So many standing ovations throughout for individual performances as well as a huge standing ovation at the end :)

After/Heal the World:
A really cool moment after the show was when they decided to do a live, impromptu auction of the glittery glove Myles was wearing, signed by Myles. They started bidding at $400 and it eventually went for $1700. It was heated and really exciting! The auction was to benefit charitable efforts in Ukraine. After the auction, Myles said "we want to end in the words of Michael Jackson and everything he stood for" and then they broke into a beautiful rendition of Heal the World and the whole audience sang along. It was beautiful and I cried (again).

Some memorable performances:
Literally, all of them were breathtaking. But this is all I can manage right now lol.

I'll be there -- a duet between young Michael and Katherine after Michael cries when Joseph hits him. Just beautifully performed, painful and touching.

Earth Song/They Don't Care About Us -- this may have been one of my favorite moments from the whole show.
At the press conference, we see Michael taking the podium and the press are screaming questions at him about his skin, his surgeries, the "allegations" (though I'm not sure which ones they are referring to at this point), and just a bunch of bullshit. As they are screaming he stands there overwhelmed and discouraged and then, suddenly, they are all quiet as he sings "What about sunrise...what about rain...?" and breaks into the first verse of Earth Song. It is STUNNING. It shows how deeply Michael cared about the world and wanted his music to serve a greater purpose, and how much he hated the attention to his personal life. But of course, the press drowns him out again. As they become obnoxious again somehow, I can't remember how, the entire scene turns into a performance of They Don't Care About Us, with Michael almost being tossed around and ripped apart, before taking the stage fully and singing it powerfully... this is actually the end of Act 1 and it was mind blowing.

Billie Jean - Opening of Act 2 and just fantastically done and so exciting to watch.

Thriller Reprise - In the first act we see just a glimmer of Thriller being performed and I was surprised by that. But in Act 2 there is a BRILLIANT performance of Thriller
that starts out with a young Michael singing the opening lyrics of the song after getting screamed at by Joseph. "It's close to midnight. Something evil's lurking in the dark..." hits different when sung slowly and by a child, staring after their father who just hurt them. Eventually adult Michael joins in before the entire song explodes out into a fast-paced and insane performance of the song.

Stranger in Moscow and She's Out of My Life - two brilliant, understated, and gorgeous performances. Only part of each song was sung, but they were performed beautifully.


Reflections:

In all, I was completely stunned by this show. It exceeded all of my expectations. The cast was enormously talented and the production value was insane. I also felt that they put a lot of time and care into the story and how it would represent Michael. My mom, who is not a big MJ fan at all and just casually knows his music, attended with me. During intermission and after she said to me "this is going to do so much to restore his image... he is such a sympathetic character." She followed this up by saying how much she wanted to learn more about who Michael truly was and that she feels like she missed out on something extraordinary by not paying attention to him much throughout his career.

I totally agreed with this. The way Myles played Michael was as a playful, sweet, gentle, fun, kind, but tortured person, which honestly lands. He uses a soft, higher voice, but it does not feel at all like a mockery. In fact, no part of this felt like an impersonation. It felt like Myles was really trying to embody him as a human being and not just trying to emulate him. The show focused on his musical genius, on his heart for humanitarian work (mostly in how much he wanted to make the world better during the Dangerous era) and was overall really respectful of who Michael was. They addressed his vitiligo too, which is so important considering how many people still question it (including fans). They also just showed that he was funny and adorable, which we can't let people forget. Just all so great.

All of this said, the musical made me ache for Michael. It made me miss him so much and it truly solidified how absolutely, unbelievably incredible he was and how NO ONE could ever take his place. I've read so many reviews that have praised Myles (deservingly) but have said that it was like being at a Michael Jackson concert, how good his portrayal was. And while a lot of it felt like a concert... and while Myles has a gorgeous voice with beautiful range, and while he is a phenomenal dancer... he is no where near Michael Jackson. I was blown away by everything about Myles, but it really hammered home just how exceptional Michael was. He didn't just have an amazing voice, or an amazing talent for dancing. He was the full embodiment of music, self-expression, and absolute fearlessness. While Myles' voice and dancing were both incredible, there was something missing in between the two, and I can't place at all what that is. Beyond his talent alone, when you add that Michael was just dazzling to look at, absolutely gorgeous, and bubbling with charisma -- that when he performed he was bursting with joy at moments and at others downright ferocious, and 100% committed to the boundless expression and passion inside of him, it becomes clear how impossible all of that is to replicate. This musical made the best possible effort I could hope for. But it ultimately made me appreciate Michael even more, which I never thought possible.

So with that said, they did their job. We can assume every person seeing this show is already a Michael fan, but I imagine many are more like my mom. I imagine a lot of people will see this out of curiosity and a general like of his music, but who might not know anything about who he was, what he stood for, how he was treated, what he went through, and how enormous his talent was. I don't think it's possible someone could leave this show without a deep appreciation for Michael and curiosity to understand him better. That is truly all I think we as fans could hope for!

TLDR: See this musical if you can! If you can't, just know that it really does honor Michael in a completely beautiful way. MJ fans can be proud knowing it's out in the world and representing him well.
 

zinniabooklover

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staywild23

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Oh, that's good news. 10? That's amazing. Gonna go and check which categories.
Oh I'm sorry I didn't include the list! Here you go:

Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Myles Frost
Best Scenic Design
Best Costume Design
Best Lighting Design
Best Sound Design
Best Direction
Best Choreography
Best Orchestrations
 

zinniabooklover

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Oh I'm sorry I didn't include the list! Here you go:

Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Myles Frost
Best Scenic Design
Best Costume Design
Best Lighting Design
Best Sound Design
Best Direction
Best Choreography
Best Orchestrations
Thanks for this. Was gonna post the list but got derailed by domestic dramas.

Looks great seeing the list. It's a nice mix of technical stuff and artistic stuff. Keeping my fingers crossed for choreography. I mean, they are all good but that's the one I'd really like to see.
 

staywild23

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Thanks for this. Was gonna post the list but got derailed by domestic dramas.

Looks great seeing the list. It's a nice mix of technical stuff and artistic stuff. Keeping my fingers crossed for choreography. I mean, they are all good but that's the one I'd really like to see.
YES! Agreed! I want them to take Choreography, Best Musical, and Best Lead Actor. Mostly I just want a ton of awards that can basically spit in the face of journalists complaining about the musical (to be fair, I'm 100% sure that awards will cause further articles about why Michael should be canceled...whatever...I just want the awards to happen lol).
 

Paris78

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The Michael Jackson Musical Celebrates the 2021-2022 Broadway Season on May 11, 2022 in New York City!

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EXCLUSIVE

Andrew Lloyd Webber subs for Questlove as DJ at Michael Jackson bas

By Ian Mohr
May 12, 2022 | 1:4
Enlarge Image
A split of Questlove and Andrew Lloyd Webber with an inset of Michael Jackson.

Questlove was scheduled to deejay a Tony nomination party for "MJ the Musical," but Andrew Lloyd Webber ended up doing it.

Getty


Call it “the phantom of the DJ.”
Questlove was meant to deejay a Tony nomination party for “MJ the Musical” Wednesday, but when the “Tonight Show” bandleader couldn’t make it at the eleventh hour, Andrew Lloyd Webber stepped in to spin at the Michael Jackson celebration.

Sources tell Page Six exclusively that Questlove was scheduled to play tunes for the Broadway show’s party at Tavern on the Green to celebrate its 10 nominations, but a spy says, “He had to pull out due to illness.”

As a replacement, Questlove, 51, sent along his pal — and noted Jackson musicologist — DJ Spinna to man the decks at the party, where guests included MJ’s kids Prince Jackson and Paris Jackson as well as the late King of Pop’s brothers.

“Andrew Lloyd Webber, who spins under the name DJ Webz, caught wind that Spinna would be manning the turntables and hit the DJ booth to lend his support,” a source says.
Enlarge Image

Questlove is known as a top DJ as well as the “Tonight Show” bandleader with the Roots.
Getty Images for Gatsby's Cockta

The “Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats” legend, 74, previously deejayed various Broadway shindigs for theater A-listers.
Cutting a rug at the upscale party was Tony nominee Myles Frost, who plays Michael on stage and was spotted “being treated like family” by the Jacksons in a “VIP room,” we’re told.

Frost, 22, was seen dancing with Prince 25, and Paris, 24, to Spinna’s wild mash-ups of Michael’s hits.
The Jackson family attended a performance of “MJ” earlier that night.
“They were spotted wiping away tears during the number ‘I’ll Be There,'” a spy shares.


questlove-michael-jackson-andrew-lloyd-webber_31.jpg

“Cats” composer Webber roars on the wheels of steel.

Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

Page Six previously reported that Paris was overcome with emotion during the same song at the show’s opening night in February. She subsequently sent the cast flowers.

Other stars who’ve seen the musical include Alicia Keys, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Angela Bassett, Nick Cannon, Michaela Coel, Jane Krakowski and Clive Davis.

A rep for Questlove didn’t immediately get back to us.
 
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