After many delays, including the pandemic, "MJ The Musical" opened Tuesday night (1 FEB.) on Broadway in New York.
The show, inspired by the life and art of the late Michael Jackson, has three actors playing the King of Pop, at different points in his life. The songs include many of Jackson's biggest hits and show his musical and personal influences along the way.
Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005,
A California judge dismissed the lawsuit by two men who alleged that Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys. The two men made their allegations in the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland."
The Jackson estate has adamantly and repeatedly denied that he abused either of the boys and brought a lawsuit against HBO.
There is no specific mention of any accusations against Jackson in the show.
"MJ" is written by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, who said she considered all parts of Jackson's life while writing but focused more on the art than the controversy.
"One of the things that I do as an artist to sustain the complexity is that all of us as individuals exist in, you know, in that gray area. And I think that you know, telling the story about Michael Jackson, we really have to sort of embrace the full complexity of who he was, and that's one of the things I think makes it art," explained Nottage.
Jackson's son and daughter, Prince and Paris Jackson were in attendance. So were some of Jackson's friends, such as the Reverend Al Sharpton who spoke about what the singer was like behind closed doors.
"He was a very serious, quiet guy in private. He took his music seriously and always said, 'Rev. how did that go? How did that show go?' Every show he wanted to be perfect. He was a perfectionist. He was always wanting to please the public. And he was a very quiet guy and proud," said Sharpton.
When asked about Jackson's complicated legacy, Sharpton took it back to the music.
"His art is what is on Broadway tonight. I think his scandals, they put them out. He was acquitted. And I think tonight his music is not scandalous at all," replied Sharpton.
Director Spike Lee didn't shy away from speaking about Jackson's complicated personal past but said it wasn't up to him to tell people how or what to think.
"That is everybody's individual choice to who they listen to, who they don't. You know, I'm not going to say you can't see that person, this person. Everybody has to make their own individual choice based upon ethics, morals, whatever it takes. So, I don't want to get into that whole cancel thing, but I'm here tonight so that that tells you where I'm at," said Lee.
Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon directs and choreographs the show.