Spectacular Dance

“Do you know what it is like to have every second of your life on display?”  


Miles Frost as MJ. (Photo: Johan Persson)

I wasn’t from the generation that bought Michael Jackson’s music but I did review Thriller! a few times and was blown away by the iconic dance.  Waiting for Lynne Nottage’s take on Michael Jackson, the musical Just For One Day at the Old Vic about the 1985 Live Aid concert led me to chance upon the documentary on Netflix about the American parallel event.  Lionel Richie narrated The Greatest Night in Pop and I think this is the first time I heard Michael Jackson talking at length instead of singing.  I was struck by the gentleness of MJ, his childlike personality and his lack of ego amongst all that musical talent. 

To tackle the elephant in the room first, I liked Lynn Nottage’s comment that MJ the Musical would concentrate on the music and that she hoped the allegations of abuse were not true.  I find it problematic judging people who created historically great art for recent moral outrage, for instance Paul Gauguin and the sexual mores of Tahitians in the 19th century, Mozart and his scatology and Auden’s beautiful poetry marred by rent boy gossip.   I watched the documentaries made by Jackson’s accusers on Channel 4 and do not find their case proven.  So like the stance taken by director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, I will concentrate on reviewing the show and not the allegations of scandal. 

Myles Frost as MJ and company. (Photo: Johan Persson)

MJ the Musical  is a visual feast with probably the best dance on in the current West End.  It is so different watching the hypnotic, geometric  dance live on stage from that on film or television.  The excitement of the opening number “Beat It” with Myles Frost’s brilliant recreation of Jackson’s stylish dance moves is electric.  It is no accident that Myles Frost, still only 24, won the Tony and other awards when he opened this show on Broadway.  Myles Frost too has Jackson’s soft spoken voice as he strives for perfection in everything he does, a hangover from his upbringing. 

The set up is a MTV crew recording the preparations over two days in 1992 for the Dangerous World Tour.  Michael Jackson has done no in depth interview for 14 years.  The presenter Rachel. (Philippa Stefani) will ask MJ about his history and we meet Michael at four different ages.    As the youngest and cutest member of the Jackson Five (played by Jaydon Eastman, Elliot Mugume, Ethan Sokontwe and Dylan Trigger) he is full of energy but we see him verbally abused and slapped by his father Joseph Jackson (Ashley Zhangazha).  Interestingly, looking back I see that Layton Williams was a child Michael in Thriller! 15 years ago.

Myles Frost as MJ and company. (Photo: Johan Persson)

We move through the early years, an appearance on Amateur Night, followed by Soul Train on TV.  They join Motown and “I’ll Be There” is sung to his mother Catherine (Phebe Edwards).  The mobbing of the crowd begins.  Michael collaborates with the legendary producers Berry Gordy (Matt Mills) and Quincy Jones (Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton).  The pressure starts for the Dangerous World tour and his accountant tries to get him to save money.  Michael studied Nigerian music for “Earth Song” which is beautifully recreated with exceptional dance and lighting. 

Act Two opens with MJ in his sequinned jacket and single glove for “Billie Jean”.  We see the fully original Moon Walk and learn that Michael Jackson studied Fred Astaire’s ballroom and Bob Fosse’s originality, shaping dancers into vehicles and trains, and the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing.  The King of Pop couldn’t play the piano so he hummed his tunes first but so much of what he was, was his own creativity in original music, lyrics and dance.

Myles Frost as MJ and company. (Photo: Johan Persson)

This last act celebrates the gorgeous “Smooth Criminal”.   We hear about the accident filming the Pepsi commercial where MJ was so badly burned by a firework which set fire to his hair and burned his scalp and may have been the start of his needing painkillers. “ I don’t even drink Pepsi!” he said.  Approaching the finale is a reworking of “Thriller” with the ensemble in copies of his red outfit but with a curious tropical circus set illustrating the circus his life has become.  Finally there is ”The Man in the Mirror” with its reflective lyrics written by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett.

I really enjoyed MJ the Musical with its extraordinary dance sequences which are truly thrilling and I think it will be at the Prince Edward for some years.  

Myles Frost as MJ and company. (Photo: Johan Persson)

Musical Numbers

Act One

Beat It

 Tabloid Junkie


 Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

  (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher

 Climb Ev’ry Mountain

 The Love You Save

  I Want You Back


 I’ll Be There

 Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

 Blame It on the Boogie

 Dancing Machine

 Stranger in Moscow

 You Can’t Win

 I Can’t Help It

 Keep the Faith

 Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

 Earth Song

 They Don’t Care About Us  

Act Two

 Billie Jean 

 Smooth Criminal 

 For the Love of Money

Can You Feel It 


 Keep the Faith (Reprise) 

 She’s Out of My Life 


 Human Nature 


Price of Fame (Reprise)


 Man in the Mirror 

 Jam (Reprise) 

 Black or White 

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Reprise)

 Working Day and Night

Production Notes

MJ the Musical

Book by Lynn Nottage

Directed and Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon



Myles Frost

Ashley Zhangazha

Jon Tsouras

Kieran Alleyne

Marie Finlayson

Matt Mills

Mitchell Zhangazha

Philippa Stefani

Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton

Simeon Montague

Toyan Thomas-Browne

Travis Kerry

Taylor Walker

Kalisha Johnson

Hanna Dimtsu

Grace Kanyamibwa

Phebe Edwards

Matt Gonsalves


Derek Aidoo

Morgan Baulch

Milan Cacacie

Spencer Darlaston-Jones

Aden Dzuda

Christopher Gopaul

Dianté Lodge

George Ross

Lydia Sterling

Charlotte-Kate Warren

Tavio Wright


Director and Choreographer: 

Christopher Wheeldon

Set Designer: Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini

Costume Designer: Paul Tazewell

Musical Supervisor: David Holcenberg

Lighting Designer:  Natasha Katz

Sound Designer: Gareth Owen

Orchestrations:  Jason Michael Webb

Musical Director: Sean Green

Movement Director: Rich + Tone Talauega

Video/Projection Designer:

Peter Nigrini


Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval

Booking until 7th December 2024



Prince Edward  Theatre

Old Compton Street

London W1D 4HS

Box Office 0344 482 5151

Tube: Leicester Square

Website:  london.mjthemusical.com

Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge

at the Prince Edward


on 1st April  2024