Broadway Review: MJ THE MUSICAL (Neil Simon Theatre)

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by Cris Franco on April 14, 2022

in Theater-New York


MJ (The Michael Jackson Musical) raises the bar for the bio-musical. Set in the rehearsal hall for Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour, the story follows two documentarians, one is “Alejandro” played exactingly by GABRIEL RUIZ, who are allowed entre into press-weary Michael’s inner sanctum to chronical his creative process. This simple, but effective premise leads us on an intimate journey where we encounter the angels (his mother, AYANA GEORGE) and demons (his father, QUENTIN EARL DARRINGTON) that drove “the gloved one” to his musical brilliance and emotional dark side. Not only is the storytelling smart and unpredictable, (a rarity in the bio-musical,) MJ is ablaze with 22 of the classic songs that made Michael Jackson’s discography one for the ages. It’s also filled with his signature moves.

But more than the thrilling choreography (RICH & TONE TALAUEGA), the morphing set design (DEREK McLANE), and the state-of-the-art light show (NATASHA KATZ), is lead actor MYLES FROST who so convincingly embodies Michael Jackson that he leaves one feeling as if you’ve been in the presence of the real “man in the mirror.” This is a star-making tour de force performance requiring a level of singing, dancing and nuanced acting rarely seen on stage. MR. FROST portrays the conflicted man/child Michael with the determination and complexity it took for his mild-mannered persona to rise to the heights of the fickle music industry.

With a skillful narrative adapted from Jackson’s actual interviews, masterful book writer LYNN NOTAGE doesn’t pull any punches and artfully addresses the brewing controversies surrounding Michael’s dependency on pain pills and disturbing request to bring a young family on the tour with him. Following in the footsteps of the Four Season’s magnificent Jersey Boys and Carol King’s poignant Beautiful, MJ is the next step in the evolution of the American theater’s jukebox musical as it neither exonerates nor indicts the King of Pop – but rather allows the audience to experience MJ’s lifelong genius while applying their own meaning to his sudden and unexpected finale. MJ is a truly amazing show.

photos by Matthew Murphy

MJ The Musical
Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W 52nd St.
open run
opened February 1, 2022
for tickets, visit MJ THE MUSICAL

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dyana Ortelli April 17, 2022 at 2:32 am

We can always expect extensive detail on every aspect of the show and appropriate credits from writer Cris Franco! Truly makes me want to see this production!


John Mcfaul April 17, 2022 at 6:55 am

An accurate and insightful review. I thoroughly enjoyed this Musical and can only add that the experience drew me out of the theater and onto the rehearsal stage. Like an out of body experience, MJ swept me away in its fierce and stellar portrayal of a tortured genius of musical superstardom.


Cris Beato April 17, 2022 at 3:56 pm

Sounds great, Cris! Would so love to see it, ever so much. Weirdly you were guest starring in a long dream I had last night, sharing the space with my father. Then I saw this the minute I opened my email! Go figure. So good to hear from and about you, always!


Carlos April 17, 2022 at 7:22 pm

This show has “Tonys” written all over it. Best musical of the year? Sounds like it from this insightful review. Can’t wait to see it!


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