Everything you need to know about 'MJ The Musical' on Broadway
We've made it as easy as ABC to learn all about this Broadway musical about Michael Jackson.
Can you feel it? It's the burst of energy coming from the Neil Simon Theatre every night during performances of MJ The Musical on Broadway. Tabloid junkies, smooth criminals, and dancing machines will all find something to love in this new show about the groundbreaking career of Michael Jackson. The show's pre-Broadway run was canceled and its original Broadway premiere postponed, making this production the musical's world premiere.
Set during rehearsals for his Dangerous World Tour, the show has the energy and flow of a Michael Jackson concert. There are over two dozen hit songs from his solo career and his time with the Jackson 5, which first launched him and his brothers to fame. Not to mention that the choreography, all inspired by Jackson's famous moves (and taught by the men who actually danced with Jackson!), moves the show along more smoothly than a moonwalk. After seeing the cast perform, you might want to sing and dance in your seat! So if the man in the mirror is telling you to see MJ The Musical, listen — the show is a thriller.
What is MJ The Musical about?
MJ The Musical is all about the historic life and works of Michael Jackson, charting key moments in his career that eventually led him to be crowned the "King of Pop" and become one of the bestselling and most awarded musical artists of all time. The musical centers around Jackson in 1992, as he's rehearsing for his Dangerous World Tour. Amid his songs from the Dangerous album, like "Black or White," he's also preparing to sing his greatest career hits from the previous three decades. He creates on the spot as he rehearses, changing choreography and the set list as it feels right to him. He's on a quest to make the tour perfect — to the occasional chagrin of his tour director and business manager.
While in rehearsal, a reporter and cameraman arrive from MTV, hoping for an exclusive interview with Jackson that will shine light on his life and creative process. Though he hasn't done an in-depth interview in 14 years, Jackson hesitantly agrees. The interview prompts him to share the memories tied to the creation, release, and success of his music. As he rehearses each song, these memories come to life on stage, beginning with his time leading the Jackson 5 with his brothers and going through pivotal moments in his professional and personal life up to that point.
Where is MJ The Musical playing?
MJ The Musical is at the Neil Simon Theatre. The theatre is located at 250 W 52nd St. between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The theatre is located across the street from the August Wilson Theatre and around the corner from the Broadway Theatre.
How long is MJ The Musical?
MJ The Musical runs 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission. This is a typical Broadway musical length, though musicals can run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Intermission is also a standard length at 15 minutes long.
What days is MJ The Musical playing?
MJ The Musical plays eight performances a week at the Neil Simon Theatre. For the complete performance schedule and most up-to-date show times, please visit the MJ The Musical page to learn more.
When did MJ The Musical premiere?
MJ The Musical played its first-ever performance on December 6, 2021, after multiple changes to its journey. The musical was originally scheduled to make its world premiere at Chicago's Nederlander Theatre in October 2019 as a lead-up to its Broadway run. However, that production was canceled, with MJ then slated to go straight to Broadway in summer 2020. But that start date, too, was postponed by over a year due to the pandemic.
- 2018: MJ The Musical is first announced
- 2021: MJ The Musical premieres on Broadway
Who wrote MJ The Musical?
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage wrote the book for MJ The Musical. The songs in the musical are attributed to Michael Jackson, as they include about 25 of his biggest hits, but Jackson had multiple co-writers than can be said to be composers and lyricists as well.
MJ The Musical characters
Many of the major characters in MJ The Musical include the members of Michael Jackson's family, as he got his start as a musician while singing with his brothers in the Jackson 5. Though he had eight siblings, only Michael Jackson and his five brothers in the Jackson 5 are featured; his sisters — including Janet Jackson, who launched her own successful music career — are not featured. The characters also include Jackson's parents and multiple figures from the recording and media industry during Jackson's lifetime, and many actors hold multiple roles. Here are some of the major characters in MJ The Musical.
- Michael Jackson: A singer/songwriter and dancer who would eventually have one of the most successful music careers of all time. Three actors play Jackson in his childhood, young adulthood, and adulthood.
- Rob: The director of the Dangerous tour. He and Michael often come into conflict when Michael asks to make major changes to the tour at the last minute.
- Rachel: An MTV reporter who interviews Michael about his life and music during tour rehearsals.
- Alejandro: The MTV cameraman who accompanies Rachel to get video footage of rehearsal to go with the interview. He is a huge Michael Jackson fan.
- Joe Jackson: The patriarch of the Jackson family and the manager of the Jackson 5. He pushed his sons into the music industry and helped them land a record deal with Motown, but he showed them very little affection in his quest to make them perfect.
- Katherine Jackson: The mother of the Jackson family. Later in the Jackson 5's career, she joined the group's management team with her husband.
- Jackie Jackson: One of Michael's older brothers and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5.
- Tito Jackson: One of Michael's older brothers and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5.
- Jermaine Jackson: One of Michael's older brothers and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5. He and Michael were co-lead singers of the group.
- Marlon Jackson: One of Michael's older brothers and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5.
- Randy Jackson: The youngest Jackson brother, who replaced Jermaine when the group left Motown for CBS Records.
- Berry Gordy: The founder of Motown Records, who launched the careers of many Black singers and groups, including the Jacksons.
MJ The Musical songs
MJ The Musical incorporates 37 songs, including over 25 of Jackson's greatest hits. You'll also hear snippets of other popular songs from his era and even some classic showtunes. Some aren't just confined to one act: Melodies of some songs are heard early in the show and their full versions are performed later, and many of the musical numbers are medleys, with one song flowing seamlessly into another. Not all of Jackson's hits are performed in full, but between "Beat It" as the opening number and "Man in the Mirror" as the finale, there's plenty to make you want to groove along. Here are all the songs featured in MJ The Musical in alphabetical order.
- 2 Bad
- Black Or White
- Blame It on the Boogie
- Can You Feel It
- Climb Ev'ry Mountain
- Dancing Machine
- Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
- Earth Song
- Ease on Down the Road
- For the Love of Money
- Higher and Higher
- Human Nature
- I Can't Help It
- I'll Be There
- I Want You Back
- Keep the Faith
- The Love You Save
- Man in the Mirror
- Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
- Price of Fame
- Rock With You
- She's Out of My Life
- Smooth Criminal
- Stranger in Moscow
- Tabloid Junkie
- Soul Train Theme Song
- They Don't Care About Us
- Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
- You Can't Win
Major productions of MJ The Musical
The current Broadway production of MJ The Musical is the first and only run of the show, marking the musical's world premiere. A pre-Broadway production in Chicago was originally scheduled for October 2019, but that run was ultimately canceled. No other productions of MJ The Musical have been announced yet.
Fun facts about MJ The Musical
- The curtain in front of the stage has handwritten notes projected on it that audiences can see before each act starts. These notes, mainly about choreography ideas, are copied from Jackson's actual notes and are in his handwriting.
- Michael Jackson and the Dangerous World Tour were actually featured on MTV in 1992. The resulting TV miniseries, called The Dangerous Diaries, included backstage footage and snippets of his live performances. MJ The Musical isn't a direct retelling of that event, however; the MTV reporters are fictional, and their interview is inspired by multiple of Jackson's media appearances.
- The MJ The Musical creative team includes Rich and Tone Talauega as movement consultants. The Talauega brothers began as dancers on Jackson's HIStory World Tour and went on to dance and choreograph with him for years. They worked with director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon to make the choreography in MJ The Musical authentic to how the real Jackson actually danced.
- Michael Jackson is famous for naming and popularizing the "moonwalk" dance move, but did you know he also popularized the robot?
- Jackson has nearly 70 awards and honors to his name, including 15 Grammy Awards, 6 Brit Awards, a Golden Globe Award, 39 Guinness World Records, and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame. He is also the only music artist to be inducted into the Dance Hall of Fame.
How to get MJ The Musical tickets
MJ The Musical is the perfect show for all fans of Michael Jackson and his music. Audiences will get to hear all their favorite Jackson hits performed live, complete with Jackson's signature costumes and iconic choreography. And although the songs shine on their own and you'll have fun rocking out to them, the dancing drives MJ The Musical and brings just as much energy — and you won't get that on a Michael Jackson CD! If you love shows with lots of dancing, want to feel like you're watching a bona fide Michael Jackson concert, or are just looking for a fun, upbeat show, this is the musical for you.