Roman Banks brings awe to ‘MJ The Musical’

MJ The Musical is on its national tour. With the tour, MJ The Musical makes a pitstop in Southern California through March 31, playing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. 

The four-time Tony Award Broadway winner has gotten a lot of rave reviews across the board, not to mention many fans going out and attending the live performance.  

“It’s been wonderful,” said actor Roman Banks, who headlines MJ The Musical. “All across the country, we have people just really excited to witness the incredible production that our creative team has brought to life here with the musical.”

Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade

Banks continued, “People come…sort of excited not really sure what to expect and we have the opportunity to give them an experience that fills a lot of joy, a lot of hard work, and a lot of love amongst the entire cast. It’s been really beautiful. People come once, and they come twice, and they come three times before we leave the city. Or come in one city and go to another city to see it again. It’s been the best thing you could ever ask for.”

 MJ The Musical more or less centers around the world of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous world tour and the singer’s Dangerous album, which has sold more than 47 million copies worldwide, according to the site ChartMasters.  

With hit songs like Remember the Time, Black or White, and Jam, Dangerous is still today in the Top 25 best-selling albums of all time (No. 21, according to ChartMasters), even though it was released back in 1991.    

Jackson is considered to be one of the greatest entertainers of all time. And in MJ The Musical, a wide variety of his best hits are performed throughout the show. 

Of course, the musical would not be what it is without someone with the acting talent, dancing skills and artistry that brings out the essence of who Jackson was during that period and time. Banks is the show’s leading man.

Actor Roman Banks stars in the national tour of “MJ The Musical.” Courtesy photo

“It means a great deal, you know, to embody probably my favorite musical artist of all time, and you know, to act as a vessel to bring his artistry back to thousands of people across the country, and give them either what they remember an experience to be like or imagined what an experience to be like or what they have never thought about an experience being like with Michael Jackson’s artistry. It’s a real honor,” Banks said during a Zoom interview with News4usonline Editor Dennis J. Freeman.    

Banks is responsible for simulating the late In the Closet singer on stage well enough to bring back the ghosts of Jackson in a creative sense. There are three versions of Jackson in MJ The Musical. 

Banks plays the role of MJ when Jackson was at his zenith as a megastar in the world of pop music. Jackson was a master of dance. His superior energy was second to none. The hit songs and dance numbers are the main selling points of MJ The Musical. 

The biggest challenge in taking the MJ role was getting the dance part right, Banks said. 

“It’s presented as a dance when I first got the job or got the audition for the job,” Banks remarked. “I hadn’t danced in about five years. So, you know, the dance was presented as a huge challenge as I got my body acclimated to the very specific and widely recognized picturesque movement that Michael just exemplified over his entire career. I just wanted that to be as perfect as possible, and as sharp and as recognizable as possible. It still is a challenge, but we get through it.”   

Set amidst a backdrop of a Los Angeles rehearsal studio, MJ delves back into his past as he alternates prepping for his Dangerous world tour and finding time to open up about his journey to stardom in an exclusive interview with a reporter. 

While reflecting, Jackson (MJ) was still obligated to put on a show. It is a relentless chase for Jackson (MJ). In this regard, Banks brings out the creative musical genius of MJ. Banks is the one that makes MJ The Musical go. 

Roman Banks as MJ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy MurphyMade

“I think for me, it’s just being a vessel,” Banks said. “Being a vessel for this artist that shook the world on so many occasions, and allowing people to interact with, you know, what that would have been like again or giving that experience to kids for the first time, who obviously, weren’t alive to see Michael during his time with us.”

“And then bringing back that memory to people who do remember Michael’s time here with us was like, and what that art created inside of them, in terms of the way they felt about it. So, you get this multi-generational appreciation that strikes you in a lot of different ways…I admire him so much. So it’s fun to bring that back to people or give it to them for the first time,” he added.   

Banks who once starred in the stage production of Dear Evan Hansen, plays the role of MJ so well that it’s hard to see that this is just all a reenactment. Banks brings the wow to MJ The Musical. With the masterful dancing, the well-placed choreography, and creatives spewing all over the place, Banks brings it all together with electric energy. He is simply amazing.

To get inspiration to draw from every night, Banks says he’ll watch YouTube clips of Jackson in concert or doing interviews. 

“I will play Michael’s concerts. I’ll play like his YouTube videos and whatnot, sometimes interviews,” Banks quipped.”Sometimes I tend to span between like the beginning of the Thriller era to about ‘95 and try to watch as much in there. It’s really just a reminder of the energy to bring to the stage every single night. Michael was [a] very high energy, very high-level energy performer. I try to tap in and remember that before I go out there just so I know what my baseline is. I don’t want to dip from that.”       

Top Image Caption: Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of the MJ First National Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy, MurphyMade

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