How 'MJ The Musical' puts a new spin on Michael Jackson songs

The show uses the King of Pop's hits to illustrate his life story.

Diep Tran
Diep Tran

If you've ever wanted to hear Michael Jackson's biggest hits impeccably sung live, then MJ the Musical is the show for you. MJ uses Michael Jackson's best-known songs (and some deep cuts) to tell the story of the King of Pop from his childhood stardom in the Jackson 5 to his historic solo career as an adult. MJ won four Tony Awards, including Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Myles Frost as Jackson.

Whether you're a casual Michael Jackson fan or a Moonwalker, there's something in MJ for you. MJ contains 41 songs, most of them from Jackson's discography, including some Jackson 5 favorites. But you'll see those songs in a whole new light in this musical. Here are some of the Jackson songs in MJ and how they're presented.

Get MJ The Musical tickets now.

"Beat It"

"Beat It" is the opening number, and it certainly starts the musical with a bang. The song introduces us to the concept of MJ: Michael Jackson is preparing for his 1992 Dangerous World Tour. The dancers are rehearsing for the show, and they suddenly all stand at attention as Jackson walks in, fedora on his head, and begins to throw down. See Frost and the cast of MJ perform "Beat It" below.

"I'll Be There"

MJ goes back and forth in time from 1992 to Jackson's childhood, when he was the lead singer of the Jackson 5. "I'll Be There" comes early in the show — but Jackson doesn't sing it. It's sung by his mother, Katherine Jackson (Ayana George) singing to a young Michael (played on alternating nights by Walter Russell III and Christian Wilson). In the moving moment, Katherine tells Michael that she will always stand by him. George regularly gets a mid-show standing ovation for her performance. 

"They Don't Care About Us"

In the Act One closer, Jackson is besieged by reporters who shout questions at him, such as whether he bleaches his skin. Jackson was relentlessly hounded by the press when he was alive. In MJ, Jackson sings "They Don't Care About Us" to show how he has become a piece of meat to the public and that no one truly cares about, or knows, the real Jackson.

"Human Nature"

A key character in MJ is Rachel (Whitney Bashor), an MTV reporter making a documentary about Jackson. Rachel is frustrated because Jackson keeps his feelings close to his chest. But in the Act Two number, "Human Nature," Jackson finally opens up to Rachel and the audience. The result, where we see the world through Jackson's eyes, is gorgeous.


It wouldn't be a Michael Jackson musical without Jackson's biggest hit. "Thriller" is teased throughout MJ, but it doesn't get a full performance until Act Two. Yes, there are zombies. Yes, there's a cemetery. But this version isn't just about "the evils of the thriller" — it's also an exorcism for Jackson, as he faces his demons, including his abusive father, and emerges triumphant. You've never heard "Thriller" like this. 

MJ the Musical songs

But we don't want to spoil all of MJ for you. Even more songs in the show are given new, imaginative treatments, with a live band and some killer, thriller dance moves. Here's the complete song list for the show. How many of them do you know by heart?

  • "​​2 Bad"
  • "ABC"
  • "Bad"
  • "Beat It"
  • "Billie Jean"
  • "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 the Money"
  • "Human Nature"
  • "I Can't Help It"
  • "I Want You Back"
  • "I'll Be There"
  • "JAM"
  • "Keep the Faith"
  • "La La Means I Love You"
  • "Man in the Mirror"
  • "Money"
  • "Oyin Momo Ado"
  • "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"
  • "Price of Fame"
  • "Rock With You"
  • "She's Out of My Life"
  • "Shout"
  • "Smooth Criminal"
  • "Stranger in Moscow"
  • "Tabloid Junkie"
  • "The Love You Save"
  • "The Sound of Philadelphia Soul Train Theme Song"
  • "The Way You Make Me Feel"
  • "They Don't Care About Us"
  • "Thriller"
  • "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
  • "Workin' Day and Night"
  • "You Can't Win"
  • "Your Love Has Lifted Me (Higher & Higher)"

Get MJ The Musical tickets now.

Originally published on

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