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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


REVIEW: ‘MJ: The Musical’ is a bewitching watch

Valeria Nalani
The MJ: The Musical pamphlet given to the audience. The performance is a piece of work that needs to be seen, felt and heard in person, as this experience is nothing but thrilling, says Arts & Life Reporter Valeria Nalani.

Brilliant is an understatement.

I had the privilege of attending “MJ: The Musical” on April 2 and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Being a fan and avid audience member of Broadway, this topic was exciting. When it was announced in 2023 that this musical would come to Centennial Hall, my heart raced. The King of Pop, the myth, his story was being combined through his universal love language and the art of musical theater.

From the beginning to the very moment they bowed, the cast delivered a phenomenal performance. The cast, set design and overall environment were magnificent.

“MJ: The Musical” follows a 1992 Michael Jackson getting ready to headline his tour for the highly anticipated album Dangerous. 

After years of hiding from the press, MTV is allowed to capture a two-day documentary of the pop legend as he prepares for his headline tour; however, this brings Jackson back to a place in his life that many have yet to know about.

For years, Jackson has been the victim of allegations, leaving him hesitant about the press. However, Jackson’s choreographer, Rob, played by the incredible Devin Bowles, convinces him this documentary would be a good idea. This begins the start of a fascinating yet saddening tale.

The illustration of Jackson’s upbringing begins once the audience gets introduced to MTV reporter Rachel, played by Mary Kate Moore and cameraman Alejandro, played by Da’Von T. Moody.

Throughout the musical, I found myself nearly in tears as the story, choreography and attention to detail, from cast to crew, were beautiful. The show’s perspective is quite refreshing as it immediately draws the viewer to the time and place, simply creating a clear visual for audiences worldwide. The dancers were sharp and vivid; they captured the subtleness and effortless look that Jackson’s crew would perfectly encapsulate. 

The man behind Jackson’s crisp vocals, enchanting dance moves and passionate performance, Roman Banks, was alluring. His magnetic charm, understanding of the pop sensation and love for his craft provided a supernatural moment for those in the theater. Banks is bound to be a household name, as his determination, confidence and genius captivated every individual in a way that is rarely seen and unique.

The cast is truly out of this world outstanding. Cast vocals are nurturing to the soul, touching the human heart in a bittersweet manner. Some of the cast members include Anastasia Talley, Brandon Lee Harris, Josiah Benson, Bane Griffith and Jacobi Kai, who were all bewitching in their own way.

The younger talent, which includes Bryce A. Holmes, who portrayed little Marlon and previously mentioned Benson and Griffith, who both play little Michael, were enchanting. It is thrilling to see such remarkable talent at such a young age. 

The individuals of Centennial Hall provided an atmosphere that allowed the show to flow gracefully through an audience member’s point of view, which was something worth mentioning, as this only enhanced the experience. 

Fan favorites are showcased as hits such as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Man In The Mirror” which all harmonize perfectly with the storyline. Nothing will ever top the audience’s reactions once the first beat of “Thriller” drops. An inch of heaven was given as Banks intensely performed his heart out into the realm of Jackson.

This is a one-of-a-kind show performed by extraordinary artists, something you can not miss.

“MJ: The Musical” runs from April 2 to April 7 at Centennial Hall. Visit the Broadway in Tucson website to purchase tickets.

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