The influence of “The King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, on the 20th-century music and cultural landscape was massive. Up to today, he is considered the greatest pop performer in music history, significantly affecting the sound of the 70s and 80s and revolutionizing the modern pop experience. Many people have been inspired by his music and iconic dance and have followed in his footsteps. The legacy he left will continue to shape the music scene in the years and decades to come. In a way, this is how he lives on.
To celebrate the artistry that the “King of Pop” has gifted the world, his story has been continuously told to inspire and empower those who would love to become the next superstar and those who have admired his music. One of these biopic iterations is the new MJ The Musical, which has brought to the stage a meaningful snippet in the life of Michael Jackson in stardom. Bringing the heat to the cold winter this year, Broadway’s production will come to New Orleans in the Saenger Theatre, showing this celebratory musical. Come and see it and witness greatness unfold in front of you.
“MJ, like its subject, is captivating and hard to shake.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“Visually & sonically ravishing!” – Deadline
Lynn Nottage took the helm in writing the script for MJ The Musical. Among her award-winning works are her plays “Ruined” and “Sweat,” which brought her two Pulitzer Prizes. She holds the record of being the only woman to keep such acclaim. She has been known to be a fearless playwright, writing about topics people need to see, and it has become her strength. In her long career, this musical was her biggest project yet.
“We’re really deeply invested in shifting the paradigm of musical-making, and particularly the jukebox musical. And Broadway certainly is ready for a musical that’s a little more serious. We want this to be a musical that everyone can come to, regardless of how they feel about Michael Jackson, and they will leave with a better understanding of who he was as a human being.” Nottage spoke in an interview with The New York Times, highlighting their purpose of adapting a musical for the King of Pop.
Alongside Nottage, Michael Wheeldon shares his creative mind as the director and choreographer of the musical. As a renowned ballet choreographer, Wheeldon appreciates and highlights the iconic movements that epitomized Michael Jackson. But he wasn’t going to copy Jackson’s music videos note for note. He believed that if he did that, the choreography would not give justice and give a fresh take to an icon everyone knows. In other words, there is no interesting creative challenge to be had. To achieve a more remarkable choreography, he worked with many dancers and choreographers who had previously danced with MJ.
“Beautiful to experience throughout, which one almost never can say about jukebox musicals.” – Chicago Tribune
Michael’s creativity, from the Jackson 5 to his solo career, is celebrated throughout the show. The plot revolves around Michael’s search for self-expression and creative freedom. Set behind the scenes as he prepares for his unforgettable 1992 Dangerous World Tour, the entirety of the show revolves around this one setting. This gives a comprehensive examination of his method. While Michael and his team prepare their huge setlist, the audience is taken to important periods in his creative career. The show also delves into his personal issues as well as the influence of his fame on his life.
MJ The Musical’s first act starts with the cast members beginning a performance, getting ready for rehearsals for the impending Dangerous World Tour, the first performance of which is in two days. As MJ comes along with the dancers to practice, a journalist walks in with her cameraman, hoping to obtain an in-depth interview with him. MJ sits down with the journalist and recalls some of his childhood terrors, as well as some of the unforgettable experiences growing up in the spotlight. This interview continues to the second act as MJ conveys more deeply his life as the “King of Pop.”
This musical features 25 of the best songs recorded by MJ. Act One showcases the songs “Beat It,” a Jackson 5 Medley of the songs “Love You Save,” “I Want You Back,” and “ABC,” “I’ll Be There,” and ends with a medley of “Earth Song” and “They Don’t Care About Us.” On the other hand, Act Two presents songs such as “Billie Jean,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Human Nature,” “Thriller,” and “Man in the Mirror.” All these songs are creatively performed, most of which are juxtaposed to MJ’s account during the interview. In return, the audience gets to see a larger-than-life depiction of his life through music and dance.
“A flawless production.”- New York Theatre Guide
Nottage and Wheeldon set the production to premiere in 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening pushed through on February 2022 at the Neil Simon Theatre. Up until this writing, the musical continues to run at the Broadway theatre.
The musical was well-received and received ten Tony nominations during the 2022 Tony Awards. The musical bagged four awards, including the “Best Actor in a Musical” award for Myles Frost’s portrayal of MJ, “Best Choreography,” “Best Lighting Design of a Musical,” and “Best Sound Design of a Musical.” Other prestigious award-giving bodies also recognized the musical. During the 2022 Outer Critics Circle Awards, Wheeldon won the category of “Best Choreographer.” At the 2022 Drama Desk Awards, the musical won “Outstanding Orchestrations,” “Outstanding Lighting Design,” and “Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical.” Furthermore, during the 2023 Grammy Awards, it was nominated for “Best Musical Theater Album.”
To top it all off, MJ the Musical became a box office hit. After their successful stint during the Tony Awards, the musical sold out performances daily and broke records at the Neil Simon Theatre.
Other productions of the show include the North American Tour, which kicked off in March 2022, and the upcoming West End production to come out at the Prince Edward Theatre in March 2024.
On November 1 to 12 this year, the touring production of MJ the Musical will be bringing their electric performances at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans. Although the cast is yet to be announced, fans are already anticipating the show for all the good reasons. Whether you are a fan of the King of Pop or you just want to understand his life in a whole new different way, this show is definitely for you. See it for yourself and see history unfold right before your eyes. Reserve your tickets now!