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Everything you need to know about 'MJ the Musical'

Tony Award-winning musical MJ has crossed the pond and opens in the West End in March. Read our guide for what you need to know about this thrilling production.

Julia Rank
Julia Rank

One of 2024’s most hotly anticipated Broadway transfers, MJ the Musical, starts previews at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 March. One of the 20th century’s most iconic (and controversial) performers, Michael Jackson continues to captivate fans 15 years after his death, with his extraordinary voice, iconic dance moves, and incomparable stage presence.

Jackson’s achievements include 15 Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards and 39 Guinness World Records. Known as the ‘King of Pop,’ he is considered by many to be the greatest entertainer of all time. Furthermore, much has been written about his highly complex personal life and his role in race relations.

Stuffed with his greatest hits, MJ the Musical pays tribute to Jackson’s extraordinary career and provides an intimate insight into the creative mind and collaborative spirit behind the showman. Tony Award winner Myles Frost, who originated the role of Jackson on Broadway, also heads to the West End.

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What is MJ the Musical about?

MJ is a biographical jukebox show about the singer Michael Jackson, and is based on the stormy creation of his legendary 1992 Dangerous World Tour. MJ and his collaborators are in the middle of rehearsals and things aren’t running smoothly. Through an interview with a reporter called Rachel, MJ opens up about his difficult upbringing and being a child performer with his brothers in the Jackson 5, his rise to stardom, and his relationships with his fans and the press. Director Christopher Wheeldon explained in an interview with Playbill that, “You take one key moment in the history of someone's life and then sort of use that as an anchor point for past storytelling and, perhaps, some kind of prophecy of what's to come.”

Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour was his second international concert tour, promoting his eighth studio album Dangerous. Jackson played 69 concerts in Europe, Asia, and Latin America (and none in North America). All profits were donated to charity, including Jackson’s Heal the World Foundation. The tour featured many daring stage illusions.

When can I see MJ the Musical?

MJ starts previews on 6 March, with opening night on 27 March. At present, the run is open-ended. The production plays eight shows a week, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Which theatre is MJ the Musical playing at?

MJ plays at the Prince Edward Theatre, which recently housed the West End transfer of James Graham’s football play *Dear England*. Other recent productions include Ain’t Too Proud, Mary Poppins and Aladdin.

Major productions of MJ the Musical

MJ was originally scheduled to make its world premiere at Chicago's Nederlander Theatre in October 2019, but the production was cancelled. The musical was then due to open on Broadway in summer 2020, but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The musical finally opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in February 2022, following previews in December 2021, and earned on average over one million dollars a week. MJ continues to play on Broadway and the first US tour is running until September 2024. A German-language production will open in Hamburg in December 2024, and an Australian production in Sydney in February 2025.

What awards has MJ the Musical won?

MJ received critical acclaim for its run on Broadway, and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards. The original cast recording was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.

The production won the following 2022 Tony Awards:

  • Best Actor in a Musical (Myles Frost)
  • Best Choreography (Christopher Wheeldon and Rich and Tone Talauega)
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Natasha Katz)
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical (Gareth Owen)

It was nominated for a further six Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Christopher Wheeldon), and Best Book of a Musical (Lynn Nottage).

Who stars in the London production?

This is an exciting opportunity to see new star Myles Frost, who won a Tony Award for the role on Broadway. Born in Maryland in 1999, Frost was an audio engineering major at Bowie State University but left early after being cast in MJ. He caught the producers’ attention through a YouTube video of his performance of "Billie Jean" from a high school talent show. “I’m super excited to bring this show to the West End and to make this a magical experience for everybody,” Frost said in a statement. He also appeared in Ava DuVernay’s 2023 film Origin.

Frost will be joined by Ashley Zhangazha as Joseph Jackson/Rob, Mitchell Zhangazha as Michael, Philippa Stefani as Rachel, Phebe Edwards as Katherine Jackson/Kate, Matt Mills as Berry Gordy/Nick, Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton as Tito Jackson/Quincy Jones, Matt Gonsalves as Alejandro, Jon Tsouras as Dave, Kieran Alleyne as MJ Alternate and Standby for Michael, and Kwamé Kandekore as Standby for MJ and Michael.

MJ the Musical characters

The show provides insight into Michael Jackson's life, contextualised by the presence of his family and leading figures in the entertainment industry, as well as the media. Several actors in the cast play multiple roles. The Jackson 5, which launched Michael's career, featured the Jackson sons only. The three daughters – Rebbie (eldest child), LaToya, and Janet (youngest child) – do not appear in MJ the Musical. While nine Jackson siblings became professional singers, there was a tenth child: Marlon’s twin, Brandon, who died hours after birth.

  • Michael Jackson: The phenomenally talented and troubled protagonist, a singer, dancer, and songwriter. The eighth of the 10 Jackson children, second youngest son, and a former child star turned global megastar. The show depicts Jackson at various stages of his life, featuring a Teenage Michael and Little Michael.
  • Rob: Dangerous tour director whose patience is tested by Jackson's requests for major changes with little time.
  • Rachel: MTV reporter who tries to interview MJ about his life and career during rehearsals.
  • Alejandro: MTV cameraman attempting to video record the interview. A Michael Jackson superfan.
  • Joe Jackson: Jackson family patriarch who saw his children’s musical talent as a way out of poverty. His ruthlessly ambitious approach and implementation of strict discipline permanently damaged his relationships with his children.
  • Katherine Jackson: Jackson family matriarch who co-managed her children’s careers with her husband.
  • Jackie Jackson: Eldest Jackson son and second child, and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5.
  • Tito Jackson: Second Jackson son and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5.
  • Jermaine Jackson: Third Jackson son and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5. He was the second lead vocalist after Michael. Jermaine left the Jackson 5 in 1975 when the group left Motown for CBS Records, remaining with Motown as a solo artist.
  • Marlon Jackson: Fourth Jackson son and one of the founding members of the Jackson 5.
  • Randy Jackson: Seventh and youngest Jackson son and penultimate child, who replaced Jermaine in Jackson 5
  • Berry Gordy: Founder of Motown Records, who launched the careers of many Black musicians, including the Jacksons.
  • Quincy Jones: Songwriter and producer who produced three of Michael Jackson’s albums: Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad.
  • Suzanne de Passe: Producer who, early in her career, developed the Jackson 5’s act and designed their costumes.

Who is in the MJ the Musical creative team?

Director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is a former dancer whose full-length works for the Royal Ballet include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. He won a Tony for Best Choreography for An American in Paris, which he also directed.

Book writer Lynn Nottage is a double winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her plays Ruined (2009) and Sweat (2017). To date, she is the only woman to have won the award twice.

Lighting designer Natasha Katz is a four-time Tony winner who has worked frequently with Wheeldon at the Royal Ballet. The show's sound designer Gareth Owen has won three Olivier Awards and a Tony.

The spectacular set design is by Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini, and costumes are by Paul Tazewell.

Which songs are in MJ the Musical?

MJ's score includes over 25 of the King of Pop’s biggest hits:

Act I

"Beat It" – MJ, Company, and Orchestra
"Tabloid Junkie" / "Price of Fame" – MJ and Rachel
"Shout" / "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" / "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" – Ensemble
"Climb Ev'ry Mountain" – Little Michael
"The Love You Save" / "I Want You Back" / "ABC" – Little Michael, Little Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie
"I'll Be There" – Katherine, Little Michael, MJ
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" / "Blame It on the Boogie" / "Dancing Machine" – MJ, Teenage Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Company "Stranger in Moscow" – MJ
"You Can't Win" – Berry Gordy and Teenage Michael
"I Can't Help It" – Quincy Jones and Young Adult Michael
"Keep the Faith" – Quincy Jones and Young Adult Michael
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" – Young Adult Michael, MJ, and Ensemble
"Earth Song" / "They Don't Care About Us" – MJ and Ensemble

Act II

"Billie Jean" – MJ
"Smooth Criminal" – MJ and Ensemble
"For the Love of Money" / "Can You Feel It" – Joseph Jackson, Young Adult Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Orchestra
"Money" – Joseph Jackson
"Keep the Faith (Reprise)" – Rob, MJ, and Ensemble
"She's Out of My Life" – MJ and Young Adult Michael
"Jam" – MJ, Ensemble, and Orchestra
"Human Nature" – MJ and Rachel
"Bad" / "2 Bad" – MJ, Company and Orchestra
"Price of Fame (Reprise)" – MJ
"Thriller" – Little Michael, MJ, Joseph Jackson and Ensemble
"Man in the Mirror" – Company
"Jam (Reprise)" / "Black or White" / "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (Reprise)" – Company
"Working Day and Night" – Orchestra

Fun facts about MJ the Musical

  • Co-choreographers Rich and Tone Talauega are two of Jackson’s former backup dancers and collaborators. They ensured that the choreography in the show was true to Jackson’s signature style.
  • MJ made Myles Frost the youngest-ever solo recipient of a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical at the age of 22.
  • The Bucharest concert of the Dangerous World Tour was broadcast by HBO. Jackson sold the rights for $20 million, then the highest amount for a concert performance on television.

How do I book tickets to MJ the Musical?

MJ the Musical is a hot ticket. After an award-winning run on Broadway, the show is expected to perform well in the West End. Book now to be transported back to 1992 to experience Michael Jackson in his prime.

Book MJ the Musical tickets on London Theatre.

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Photo: MJ the Musical on Broadway. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

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