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MJ The Musical - London Review

Reviewed by Amelia Bascombe

Tickets were gifted on behalf of London Box Office for an honest review

Jukebox musicals are always a bit hit or miss. Sometimes you’re left wondering how a pop stars music has been so intricately woven into a great story, and other times you wonder how it’s possible to make such good music so mediocre. Michael Jackson has been classed as one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever seen, and so the prospect of turning his music into a musical has always been greatly anticipated. The celebrated King of Pop has had his own share of misses and scandals throughout his life, but his music has always had the power to make you feel alive.

Photo by Johan Persson

Originally scheduled to open mid-2020, the Broadway show MJ: The Musical ended up premiering on the Great White Way in February 2022. Offering insight into the making of Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour, the production divulges the collaborations and innovation that went into building MJ into the star he was and is to this day. With Myles Frost taking on the iconic role, the show received some mixed reviews but ultimately proved to be a big box office success, also raking in 4 Tony Award wins, including Best Actor in a Musical for Frost’s performance. Having seen the show on Broadway last year and falling in love, I waited with immense anticipation to see how the show would fair in London. As the singer himself once said, ‘if you don't aim for something you'll never know whether you could have hit the mark’.

To put it mildly, this show is miraculous. From the incredible lighting by Natasha Katz, to the slick choreography and direction from Christopher Wheeldon, this production packs the ultimate punch. MJ’s music is used in the best ways, with some songs playing homage to music videos, and others taking the show in an unexpected direction. The Thriller sequence is unlike anything else on the West End right now, and rightfully earned itself a rapturous applause. The ensemble is loaded with outstanding dancers and singers, and those doubling up as two characters make the switch look seamless.

But the highlight of this show, is its star. If you told me prior to this performance that I was going to watch some kind of ABBA voyage version of an MJ performance, then I would’ve believed you. Myles Frost is the embodiment of the singer and nails the character down to the fingertip. He is slick, he is precise, and he is absolutely on the money. It’s a hard feat to explore the demons of MJ’s past while eloquently paying tribute to him. It’s (smooth) criminal that we have to wait a year for him to get his well-deserved Olivier nomination, but I have no doubt that he’ll get it.

Alongside him is the marvellous Mitchell Zhangazha as ‘Michael’, who represents the star around his ‘Off the Wall’ era. Zhangazha is electric; his earlier scenes showing vulnerability, and then every jacket he dawns, his confidence skyrockets. Another standout song comes with ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’, and multiple standing audience members, with him and Frost working brilliantly together. Coincidentally, Zhangazha’s brother, Ashley Zhangazha is playing Michael’s dad and manager Rob. He also hits the nail on the head with his characterisation of the two opposite roles, turning into the sinister Joseph at the drop of a fedora.

Some other notable performances come from Phebe Edwards as Katherine Jackson/Kate, who beautifully sings the gut-wrenching ‘I’ll Be There’ and gives us astonishing notes in ‘Man in the Mirror’. Additionally, Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton as Tito Jackson/Quincy Jones, Philippa Stefani as Rachel, and Matt Mills as Berry Gordy/Nick are wonderful supporting roles and serve some true vocals throughout the show. The cast as a whole really deserves some high recognition for the spectacle they’re putting on 8 shows a week, and I applaud every member for their dedication and commitment to their individual roles. I can’t also forget to shout out the Little Michael/Marlon performers who show some gorgeous talent and will be going on to amazing things in the future.

Photo by Johan Persson

Now having gushed over the cast, I can’t fault the brilliant work from the creative team. Lead by Christopher Wheeldon as director/choreographer, who steers the show in fun and fascinating ways, special shoutouts are also at hand for Derek McLane as set designer, Gareth Owen for sound design and Paul Tazewell for costume design. The show is concise and particular about the eras it is portraying. The dancing is energetic and modern, while also fitting perfectly with Michael’s signature style, incorporating the likes of the ‘robot’ and the ‘moonwalk’. Natasha Kutz’s lighting is spot on, and David Holcenberg and Jason Michael Webb’s orchestrations and arrangements are just perfect.

Safe to say I hated the production and would never go back. But seriously, this show has turned the West End technicolour, and deserves every piece of praise it gets. Fingers crossed for a long run at the stunning Prince Edward Theatre, but for now the show is booking until December 2024.

MJ: The Musical plays at London’s Prince Edward Theatre. Tickets are available through London Box Office. Find out more information from

Photo by Johan Persson

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