NYC Theater: MJ Review – Spectacular, Electrifying, A Must See

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MJ, the Michael Jackson musical running at New York City's Neil Simon Theatre, is a homage to one of the most celebrated entertainers in contemporary history and transports audiences through time to the tunes of a generation.

Before the curtain rises, audiences are treated to the actor's warming up. The set, which we understand is a dance studio, is where the show begins. Michael Jackson, played by Myles Frost, is preparing for his Dangerous tour. It is 1992.

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When the curtain rises, we are in the rehearsal studio, the dancers are training and MJ makes his entrance wearing his signature military jacket. ACT 1, Scene 1, kicks the evening into overdrive with "Beat It" and suddenly the audience understands the thrilling, high-energy, attention grabbing, performances that are upcoming.

Even as the story is clear, MJ has become addicted to painkillers and to keep up with his level of perfection, dance training, performance training, plus the business side of everything, he is slowly deteriorating. Today, an MTV journalist, played by Whitney Bashor, has arrived at the rehearsal studio to gather footage for a documentary. She is given specific instructions not to speak to Michael; she tells her cameraman to keep the tape rolling.

Once the premise of the show is established it moves through the iconic moments of Michael Jackson's rise to international super stardom. Soon the five brothers from Indiana, managed with a heavy hand by their father, Joe Jackson, played by Quentin Earl Darrington, have reached musical fame.

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The production design is captivating and transports audiences to the era using the most iconic and memorable images. Who can forget the psychedelic colors of the late 1960s and early 1970s when the Jackson 5 rocketed up the charts with a string of hits like "ABC," "I'll Be There" and "Dancing Machine."

And the Motown Era is presented with other memorable hit tunes and moves through his decision to leave Barry Gordy, played by Antoine L. Smith, and into the Quincy Jones era, played by Apollo Levine.

Throughout the show, this audience, like audiences before were joining in, singing, and dancing, standing, applauding. It is as spectacular as one would expect from Michael Jackson.

We also understand more of his backstory, more than the well-known abusive upbringing, but the sequestered life than comes with celebrity status, the tabloid fodder, the lies, eccentricities, and as the cash cow, everyone wants something and of course the flip side, no one would dare step in between him and his debilitating habits.

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With 25 of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5's greatest hits from the Motown Era, his time with Quincy Jones into the phenomenal success of "Thriller," "Billie Jean" and "The Way You Make Me Feel," we see his transformation from the fun-loving child prodigy to masterful artist and musician, and even more to a creative genius, striving for perfection and more often than not, delivering unmatched success.

"MJ allows us to rediscover the man in the mirror – with an explosion of music and theatricality as unforgettable as the artist himself," The MJ YouTube Channel introduction.

More than entertaining, MJ is dynamic, inviting and engaging. People were jumping to their feet! Standing ovations throughout the show! From the beginning to the end - songs from the Jackson Five; the rise of MJ; the wild success of Thriller – MJ is impressive.

Directed and choreographed by Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon, MJ is a high-voltage, electrifying, entertaining show! See it!

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Location: Neil Simon Theatre, New York City.

Runtime: 150 minutes with an intermission.

Director: Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon.

Choreography: Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon.

Music Direction: Jason Michael Webb.

Music Supervision: David Holcenberg.

Writer: Based on a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage.

Cast: Myles Frost, Quentin Earl Darrington, Whitney Bashor, Antoine L. Smith, Apollo Levine and various others.

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