While taking in “Tommy: The Rock Opera” on my birthday, I became aware that “M.J.: The Musical” would be opening soon at the Niederlander Theater (formerly the Oriental Theater) on Aug. 1st and running only until September 3rd.
I had seen the New York City lead in the play on the Tony awards, and I thought it looked like something that would be very high energy and enjoyable. (It was nominated for 6 Tonys).
So, a quick trip to Chicago ensued.
The trip in put us in traffic for Soldier Field. There was a big soccer game between two European teams, Chelsea and Dortmund.
Also, Lollapalooza was scheduled to kick off on August 3rd in Grant Park, with Billie Eilish singing at 7:30 p.m. Many streets were closed for Lolla.
I secured tickets to the musical online and it said we were in Row B to the right side of the stage in the Orchestra section. It turned out that Row B was actually the first row and the musicians were playing almost directly beneath us, which means that we had an unobstructed view and our seats actually vibrated to the beat and pulse of all of the Michael Jackson hits through the years.
Several different actors portrayed the young and teen-aged and adult Michael Jackson and the play sketched his life as though a film crew were trying to document the preparations for the “Dangerous” tour.
All of the actors were fantastic. It sometimes became a wee bit confusing to have multiple actors playing the same role and to have one actor portraying two parts simultaneously. For instance, the very talented actress playing Michael Jackson’s mother held down a couple of roles, as did the burly gentleman portraying Joseph Johnson, who had a great voice.
The traffic in Chicago was absolutely horrific and, when we came out of the theater after the play, it took the better part of half an hour for the Lyft driver (Jose) to make his way to the theater for pick-up. Cabs were few and far between.
It was a wonderful uplifting play, if slanted to highlight only the positive P.R. of Michael Jackson.