MJ: The Musical – Paramount Theatre

Free Ticket Giveaway: I’m giving away a free ticket to this show. See details here.

Elevator Thoughts (aka Tweet): MJ the Musical from Broadway Seattle and Seattle Theatre Group at the Paramount Theatre. Tight pop dance synchronicity. Good Michael Jackson impression. A spectacle of lights, costumes, projections, and rhythm! SO many “boom moments.” #Jukebox

See it, especially if you enjoy Michael Jackson’s music.

Synopsis from the Theatre: The music. The moves. The icon. Now, the unparalleled artistry of the greatest entertainer of all time comes to Seattle as MJ, the Tony Award®-winning new musical centered around the making of the 1992 Dangerous World Tour, begins a tour of its own. Created by Tony Award®-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, MJ goes beyond the singular moves and signature sound of the star, offering a rare look at the creative mind and collaborative spirit that catapulted Michael Jackson into legendary status. MJ is startin’ somethin’ as it makes its Washington premiere at the Paramount Theatre in 2023.

Attended Performance Date: Opening Night 12/7/23

Type: Musical

World Premiere: No

Several or Few Scenes: Several

Several or Few Settings/Locations: Several

Static (Stationary) Set: No

Prior Exposure/Knowledge Required: You’ll probably appreciate this musical more if you’re familiar with Michael Jackson’s discography. Don’t let that stop you though because while I’m typically not a fan of his music, I still enjoyed the show.

Defined Plot/Storyline: It was a series of flashbacks remembered from a rehearsal space frame. So while the script was sequential, it was not linear. There wasn’t really a strong classic plot of rising action, climax, and falling action. I feel like the book’s message was “Michael Jackson had demons. Bye!”

Live Band/Orchestra: Yes, there was uniquely one on-stage and one in the orchestra pit!

Equity Actors: All

Total Number of Actors: Too many to count

Perceived Pace of the Show: The scenes in the present were slow, but the scenes in the flashbacks were medium speed

Length (Including Any Intermission): 2.75 hours

Was there an intermission? Yes

Was This the First Time I Attended a Production of this Show? Yes

Would I See It Again 3 Years from Now? Probably not, but it was good.

Other Rave(s) Not Mentioned Above

  • The Beat: I’m usually not a huge fan of heavy beats, but it was thrilling to feel the bass so strong that it resonated in my chest. “Something Criminal” and “Thriller” were particularly memorable. It felt similar to when I saw Moulin Rouge! The Musical around the same time last year.
  • Choreography: Obviously, the choreography in a Michael Jackson musical needs to be on point, and this production did not disappoint. The performers tightly synchronized their abrupt pop and lock movements. They even sometimes synchronized their choreography with the virtual dancers in the projections on the wall.
  • MJ Impression: Roman Banks portrayed a realistic impression of Michael Jackson, especially with his docile high-pitched soft-spoken voice.
  • Retro Scenes: The flashbacks during Michael Jackson’s younger years reminded me of Motown: The Musical.
  • Boom Points: There were a TON of moments I can only describe as “boom points” when sounds and lights suddenly abruptly converged into a climactic moment. These moments were so surprising that my head reared back most times. It was a good artistic decision given the “abrupt style” of Michael Jackson’s music and choreography.
  • Costumes: Paul Tazewell recreated iconic looks from Michael Jackson’s tours. I especially enjoyed his colorful retro costumes from the Motown era.
  • Cast Doubling: Kudos to Devin Bowles for effortlessly switching between his characters of Michael Jackson’s dad and tour manager. One clearly didn’t have Michael’s best-interests in mind, but the other’s loyalty was more up for debate.
  • Last Scene: Given the storyline of the musical, the last scene was a well-chosen artistic decision to lead up to.
  • Visuals: The scenes outside the rehearsal space were visually thrilling with the projections and light show, especially the song before the first rendition of “Thriller.”


  • Least Favorite Line: Michael Jackson told an incessant interviewer something like “Listen to my music. It answers any questions you have.” I hope that was a line quoted by the real Michael Jackson because I’d be ashamed to have written something that cliche. 🤢🤮

Other Musing(s) and Observation(s)

  • “Startin’ Something”: The song with the longest applause was “Startin’ Something.” I’m not sure why though.
  • Child Abuse Allegations: As a younger millennial and a child of a conservative religious household, I didn’t really grow up enjoying Michael Jackson’s music. All I remember were the pedophilia and child abuse allegations, which I wish this show addressed. But the storyline ended in the early 90s before I think those accusations were more prevalent.
  • Mirrors: I was certain the on-stage mirrors would become TV screens or projection backgrounds, but I was wrong. It would have been a nice visual effect though for virtual dancers to appear in the mirrors like they appeared in the wall projections.
  • Skin Color: They didn’t depict Michael Jackson in his iconic white skin tone, but they talked about it in an interview scene.
  • Fosse: I didn’t know some of Michael Jackson’s moves were inspired by Bob Fosse, but it totally makes sense!
  • Binary Energy: Similar to the Michael Jackson’s pop and lock music and choreography style, the energy in this show was very binary … to a fault. The show started with a great hook showcasing tight pop choreography in “Beat It.” But the strong hook disappointingly led to slow, tepid energy in the rehearsal room scenes. The show was filled with thrilling moments, which heavily contrasted with dead, almost silent moments. There were scenes when I literally felt sleepy! If this binary energy was an intentional artistic decision to mimic Michael Jackson’s music and choreography style, color me impressed. But it’s never a good idea to put the audience to sleep.
  • Lucky: As a commoner, I guess I’ll never understand the plight of a rich celebrity who seemingly “has it all.” The storyline reminded me Britney Spears’ lyrics to “Lucky.” At the time, many people thought “Oh boo hoo, pretty little rich girl celebrity has problems? Cry me a river.” I kind of felt the same thing when the show presented Michael Jackson’s demons.

Theatre Company: National Tour Brought by Broadway Across America and Seattle Theatre Group

Venue: Paramount Theatre

Venue Physical Address: 911 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

Price: Medium to Expensive

Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.com/mj-touring-tickets/artist/3007828

Ticket Affordability Options: Seattle Theatre Group might partner with an organization you’re affiliated with for discount tickets. For example, I believe UW employees/students are eligible for an organization discount.

Dates: December 7 to 17, 2023

Seating: Assigned Seating

Parking: Paid street parking and paid garage parking. The best parking garage is under the convention center w/ the entrance on Pike around the Pike and Terry intersection. Last I checked, this is one of the cheapest, least busy, and closest garages. Alternatively, you can probably find street parking as you move closer to the West Precinct (810 Virginia St, Seattle, WA 98101). Do NOT park where the Paramount subscribers park. Last I checked, they usually park in the garage attached to the Cheesecake Factory. It’ll take you at least 30 minutes to exit that garage after the show.

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Other Video +/- Pictures: See pictures under video by Matthew Murphy from MurphyMade.

Cast and Production Team: See after pictures and/or video below

@showsiveseen @Lynn Nottage's @MJ the Musical from Broadway Seattle & @Seattle Theatre Group at the Paramount Theatre, starring @Roman Wellington Banks or Jamaal Fields-Green. Directed/choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. Conducted by @Victor.Simonson. Tight pop dance synchronicity. Good #MichaelJackson impression. A spectacle of lights, costumes, projections, & rhythm! SO many "boom moments." Review: showsiveseen.com/7468 #theatre #showsiveseen #mj ♬ Smooth Criminal (2012 Remaster) – Michael Jackson
Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
Brandon Lee Harris as ‘Michael’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
Jaylen Lyndon Hunter as Little Marlon Ethan Joseph as Little Michael and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
Josiah Benson as ‘Little Michael’ and Anastasia Talley as ‘Katherine Jackson’ in the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade.
MJRoman Banks*
MJ (Alternate)Jamaal Fields-Green
Rob, Joseph JacksonDevin Bowles
RachelMary Kate Moore
MichaelBrandon Lee Harris
Little MichaelBane Griffith*
Josiah Benson
Ethan Joseph
Little MarlonJaylen Lyndon Hunter
Tito Jackson, Quincy JonesJosh A. Dawson
Kate, Katherine JacksonAnastasia Talley
AlejandroDa’von T. Moody
Nick, Berry Gordy, Don Cornelius, DoctorJ. Daughtry
DaveMatt Loehr
Tour Dancer, Randy Jackson, Jackie Wilson (Dancer)Malcolm Miles Young
Zion Pradier*
Tour Singer, Jackie Jackson, James Brown (Vocal)Jay McKenzie
Tour Dancer, Soul Train DancerKellie Drobnick
Tour Dancer, Suzanne De Passe, Isley Brother (Dancer)Janayé McAlpine
Jojo Carmichael*
Tour Dancer, Isley Brother (Dancer), Nicholas BrotherChelsea Mitchell-Bonsu
Tour Dancer, Fred AstaireMatteo Marretta
Tour Dancer, Bob Fosse, NewscasterCroix Diienno
Keith, Jermaine Jackson, Isley Brother (Vocal)Jacobi Kai
Tour Dancer, Marlon Jackson, James Brown (Dancer), Nicholas BrotherBrion Marquis Watson
Dance and Fight CaptainKyle Dupree
Assistant Dance CaptainJojo Carmichael
SwingJojo Carmichael
Kyle Dupree
Zuri Noelle Ford
Jahir L. Hipps
Rajané Katurah
Kendrick Mitchell
Zio Mikhail Pradier
Ayla Stackhouse
Charles P. Way
Music Director/Conductor/KeysVictor Simonson
Associate Music Director/KeysNathanael Wilkerson
DrummerJimmy Bonaparte-Coggins
PercussionMesia Austin
BassJohn David Bratton II
GuitarJen Leigh
Electronic Music DesignBilly Jay Stein and Hiro Iida for Strange Cranium
Trumpet, FugelhornAllen Vizzutti
Brad Allison
Trombone, Bass TromboneDan Macus
Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Flute, ClarinetJack Klitzman
GuitarDerek Smith
KeyboardFrank Seeberger
STG Music DirectorJack Klitzman
MJ UnderstudyJordan Markus
Rob, Joseph Jackson UnderstudyJ. Daughtry, Josh A. Dawson, Kendrick Mitchell
Rachel UnderstudyRajané Katurah, Ayla Stackhouse
Michael UnderstudyJacobi Kai, Jordan Markus
Little Michael UnderstudyJaylen Lyndon Hunter
Little Marlon UnderstudyJosiah Benson, Ethan Joseph
Kate, Katherine Jackson UnderstudyRajané Katurah, Ayla Stackhouse
Tito Jackson, Quincy Jones UnderstudyJahir L. Hipps, Jay McKenzie, Kendrick Mitchell
Alejandro UnderstudyJahir L. Hipps, Matteo Marretta
Nick, Berry Gordy UnderstudyJahir L. Hipps, Jay McKenzie, Kendrick Mitchell
Dave UnderstudyJahir L. Hipps, Kendrick Mitchell
Director and ChoreographerChristopher Wheeldon
Music Supervisor, Orchestrator, & ArrangerDavid Holcenberg
Executive ProducerMichael David
AuthorLynn Nottage
Scenic DesignerDerek Mclane
Lighting DesignerNatasha Katz
Costume DesignerPaul Tazewell
Sound DesignerGareth Owen
Projection DesignerPeter Nigrini
Wig & Hair DesignerCharles G. Lapointe
Company ManagerJustin T. Scholl
Make-Up DesignerJoe Dulude II
Global Associate DirectorDontee Kiehn
Michael Jackson MovementRick + Tone Talauega
Stage ManagersShawn Pennington, Geoff Maus, Maya Bhatnagar, Xavier Khan
Global Associate ChoreographerMichael Balderrama
Orchestration & ArrangerJason Michael Webb
Music DirectorVictor Simonson
Music CoordinatorJohn Miller
* Opening night performer

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