“MJ the Musical”: Michael Jackson’s story 

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Broadway production of “MJ the Musical” visited Salt Lake City at Eccles Theater. This production brought some of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits to the stage and revealed a side of the iconic star that some might not know.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Do not miss “MJ the Musical” while it is here in Salt Lake City. The cast is incredibly talented, and the writers and directors brought nothing less than Broadway quality to the stage on Feb. 27. The musical takes you not only through Michael Jackson’s (MJ) most-beloved and timeless songs, but it also takes you inside his childhood, rise to fame, creative process, deeply personal struggles, and psyche. Viewers will be much more empathetic to MJ’s experiences after seeing this musical that humanizes the King of Pop. 

His story was beautifully and creatively told through his own music. The writers found the perfect way to toggle back and forth between MJ’s experiences as a young boy in an abusive relationship with his father and making his life and music his own at the onset of his Dangerous World Tour in 1992. The two most iconic scenes were MJ’s historic Grammy night in 1984 and, at the end of the musical, MJ achieving his vision for his Dangerous Tour. It was heartwarming and inspirational.  

The musical’s rendition of “Thriller” did not disappoint. They performed an intriguing transition from MJ’s father being a monster in his childhood to him being one of the monsters in “Thriller.” The costumes, set, and dancing were phenomenal. The audience erupted with excitement and applause.  

Throughout the musical, the audience is taken back to MJ’s beginning to see how that shaped his modern-day decisions. Poetically, the same actor who played his manager also played his father. They were two authority figures who sought to direct MJ’s career and personal life. As an onlooker, one is given a glimpse at how MJ’s upbringing made him a musical mastermind and a misunderstood tabloid-regular.  

Some of the standout songs were “I’ll Be There,” “Dancing Machine,” “Stranger in Moscow,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” and “Man in the Mirror.” The vocals from the performers playing the adult MJ, Roman Banks, and his mother, Anastasia Talley, were the highlights of the show. Another fun aspect was how the fashion trends of the 60s, 70s, and 80s influenced MJ’s legacy. The sets were colorful and creative, especially in the scene of MJ talking to a reporter behind the Hollywood Sign and how that symbolized his honesty and realness at that moment in the show, giving a glimpse of the real MJ. 

MJ would be proud of this musical and how it portrayed his life, music, persona, and struggles. It touched on everything from his overworked childhood, abusive family relationships, the overbearing press, financial struggles, childlike wonder, and perfectionism.  

A scene near the end of the production encapsulated MJ’s legacy. A fictional MTV reporter was attempting to understand this mythologized figure, and MJ’s responses left a lasting impact. He explained how he poured his heart and soul into writing, creating, and performing, all so that he could tell his story. The culmination of the lyrics, movement, and sound were all strategic and deliberate. MJ demanded perfection to set himself apart from his contemporaries. The fact that this story is being told fifteen years after his passing testifies to his impact on the world. He will be forever remembered and loved.