We round up the reviews for the newly opened musical based on the career of Michael Jackson.
The NY Times: “A new jukebox musical tells the story of Michael Jackson. Except for the big story.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “MJ, a remarkable Broadway musical written by Lynn Nottage and directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, deftly probes this weighty topic. The show was produced by arrangement with the musician’s estate, and uses Jackson’s archives and place within the public’s imagination to conduct a Freudian analysis of the artist’s life. How do you tell a story of a person who dissolved into the roles he created for himself and the roles the public created for him? Well, it depends on where and when you start.”
New York Theatre Guide: ***** “Under the exemplary direction and choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, the production gives context to Jackson’s inherited demons and zooms in on his daunting creative process and peerless genius. MJ is the platinum standard the often-uninspired, generic jukebox musical could benefit to emulate.”
Rolling Stone: “The setup sounds clunky, but most of the transitions between past and present are seamless, thanks to Wheeldon and also to cast members portraying more than one role.”
Slant Magazine: “But if MJ The Musical expends excess energy trying to make the case, perhaps unprovably at this point, that Michael was a good person, it’s massively successful at demonstrating that Jackson was an extraordinary artist putting forth extraordinary art.”
Deadline: “Has any Broadway production in recent (or even not so recent) memory arrived with as much emotional baggage – or carried it as lightly – as the visually and sonically ravishing MJ? The Michael Jackson musical, as unlikely as such a prospect might have seemed a year ago, now appears poised to take Manhattan with the same hurricane force that the real Jackson funneled when he moonwalked into television history on Motown 25.”
NY Post: “But “MJ,” directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, does not match or really approach the electricity of the King of Pop, who was an unparalleled live performer. The rehearsal-room setting and narrative randomness, particularly in the winding second act, tamps down the concert energy.”
The Wrap: “Christopher Wheeldon directs and choreographs, and his many dazzling dance sequences divert from the press releases that the actors spout in between the musical numbers.”
Time Out: “The real Jackson was an unconventional person, to say the least, with a public persona that blurred many of the usual binaries: black and white, male and female, gay and straight, young and old, pop and rock. MJ doesn’t delve into such questions, but takes pains to foreground his artistry. The show depicts Jackson as a perfectionist genius of music and performance, mindful of his influences—including James Brown and, as one standout dance number illustrates, the Nicholas Brothers, Bob Fosse and Fred Astaire”
MJ the Musical continues to play at the Neil Simon Theatre.