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“MJ” is the most incredible biographical musical ever put on stage. It’s more than just a faithful tribute with flashy costumes and imitations set to a recorded soundtrack, it’s an emotional concert that strikes a heart-pounding chord. Full of heart, soul, and irresistible charm. You can’t beat it—the best and only Michael Jackson experience you’ll ever need or find.
As Michael Jackson recounts his past, it overwhelms his emotions and creative process while at the dance studio against his well-being with his physical and emotional health at the concern of everyone around him. Not to mention the plague of risky financial decisions to make his seemingly untenable vision a plausible reality. The MTV interview crew of inquisitive Rachel (Mary Kate Moore) and fanboy cameraman Alejandro (Da’von T. Moody) bring to light the viewpoint of the media and consumer perspective that dives into the King of Pop’s personal life. Michael’s manager Rob (Devin Bowles) juggles between the access of the camera and looking after Michael’s creative endeavours.
The controversy that surrounds his legacy is softly addressed but does not overshadow the entertainment value. In many ways, the tribulations draw delicate balance into the powerful performances. The song and dance selections cleverly weave and correlate with the flashbacks of the rising star from an overworked child performer to his unstable trauma with rigid father Joseph (Devin Bowles in a commendable duel role).
“MJ” is only as good as its equally solid supporting cast and ensemble. As uncanny as Roman Banks (Alternate: Jamaal Fields-Green) is as Michael Jackson, the other ages that play the artist’s career (Brandon Lee Harris, Josiah Benson, Ethan Joseph) are well-casted in their stunningly impressionable roles. They all truly bring back a nearly lost art to a modern audience. Pitch perfect on all fronts. The choice blending of iconic songs into the story between memory, dance rehearsal, and highlighting real-life moments in the artist’s career is nothing short of creative brilliance. The high-kicking dances and soulful punches can not be beaten.
Near the beginning of Act One, Michael recalls what influenced his vocal style from watching Motown artists on a small television screen. At the beginning of act two, Michael dances alongside his role models in a heartwarming throwback to yesteryear. In turn, many aspiring artists today share that same sentiment. Inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone.
The video media, strip lights, and spotlights alongside physical set pieces, like standalone mirrors, visually enhance the onstage performance rather than detract. The scenery transitions from a dance studio, shattered reflections, multiplying dance groups, to a stadium full of cheering fans, and much more. One of many awe-struck moments has the dancers of Michael’s past surface and cross into his rehearsal for an upcoming charity concert, the 1992 Dangerous World Tour. A visual play at a overwhelming lapse into Michael’s mind. Easily conceivable to believe the Tony award-winning production included best choreography, lighting, and sound design.
No mere mortal can resist the urge to give well-deserved standing ovations to every showstopping number. Hats off, and glove, to “MJ” as an inspiring time capsule for all generations. A crime against human nature to skip this show. Authentic, faithful, and respectful ode to the life and times of a cherished artist. Impossible not to have one of the greatest time of your life.
MJ will play the Hollywood Pantages Theatre for a limited six-week engagement this holiday season from December 20, 2023 – January 28, 2024. Ticket prices start at $39. Additional ticket information at www.BroadwayInHollywood.com.