top of page

Moonwalking into Majesty: Elijah Rhea Johnson’s Mesmerizing Transformation as Michael Jackson on Broadway

MJ The Musical
By: Tammy Reese | MJ the Musical| Image: Matthew Murphy

Elijah Rhea Johnson Mesmerizes Audiences in MJ the Musical

In the heart of Broadway’s electric energy, a new star is born, and his name is Elijah Rhea Johnson. Hailing from the soulful streets of Detroit, Elijah isn’t just a multi-hyphenate creative; he’s the dynamic force behind the portrayal of the King of Pop in “MJ the Musical.” From the first beat to the final crescendo, Elijah’s performance as Michael Jackson is nothing short of spellbinding. Congratulations echo through the theater as audiences witness Elijah seamlessly embody the essence of MJ night after night. It’s more than just a role; it’s a mesmerizing transformation that transcends the stage. We dive into Elijah’s extraordinary journey — from moonwalking in the kitchen at eight years old to gracing Broadway at 25 — in a full-circle moment that feels destined.

Congratulations! Watching you on stage from beginning to end, you nailed the role of MJ. How does it feel to be a part of such an iconic production like MJ the Musical?

Elijah: Thank you! It’s such an honor to help tell the story of such an iconic entertainer night after night. I’m such a big fan of Michael, so to be a part of something like this is a dream come true.

Tell us about your journey in becoming a Broadway actor and landing the role of MJ in this musical.

Elijah: My experience of music and dance started with Michael. I was eight years old, and my dad taught me how to moonwalk in our kitchen in Detroit. I’ve been performing ever since, so now, at 25, landing this role is kind of a full circle moment for me.

Can you share any insights about your experience working with the cast and crew of MJ the Musical?

Elijah: Everyone in our building is so talented and dedicated! We give our all so we can accurately tell Michael’s story, as it’s a beautiful and at times heartbreaking one to tell. But it’s worth telling and people seem to really resonate with it.

How do you approach capturing the essence and energy of Michael Jackson’s performances while still making the character your own?

Elijah: I just try to find Michael’s pain, joy, vulnerability, etc. and find where that lives in me, and try to express that honestly. As iconic and superhuman like as MJ was, at the end of the day, he was a person. We have the opportunity to show his humanity, and I just try to tell my version of that as honest as possible.

How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically for each performance?

Elijah: I meditate before every show and just try to remember what story we are telling and why. Intention is so key to doing something 8 times a week. Life happens to you, and it’s easy to get distracted, so grounding myself before every show helps me stay connected to the story.

Images: Matthew Murphy

What challenges have you faced while rehearsing and performing in MJ the Musical, and how did you overcome them?

Elijah: MJ is not an easy show, and I think it’s super easy to burn out working a Broadway schedule. I think listening to your body and pacing yourself is how I’m able to get on that stage night after night. But Broadway is hard. There is no getting around that. But in the same breath, super rewarding.

What impact do you hope this production will have on audiences, particularly fans of Michael Jackson?

Elijah: I hope it brings people together in celebration of a man who helped change what it meant to be an artist. Someone who made some of the best music that will ever be made, and captivated millions with his passion and performance. I also hope it introduces MJ to a younger generation who may not know about him.

What advice would you give to aspiring actors who aspire to perform on Broadway?

Elijah: If being an entertainer is TRULY what you want to do, don’t give up. Keep working hard and stay dedicated. But only if this is what you truly want because the road to get there is really hard. I don’t like to sugarcoat it. But I’m so glad I stuck with it. Being an entertainer is what I was meant to do.

More on Elijah:

At 9 years old he starred as Young Simba in Disney’s “The Lion King,” Las Vegas/National Touring productions. His credits also include being a lead performer in the popular children’s group “Kidz Bop,” & joining the R&B boy-band “Mindless Behavior” as lead singer. This is a full circle moment for the young actor, as he participated in the MJ workshops as Middle Michael. Elijah is honored to be making his Broadway debut as the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. @IAMElijahJ

Learn more about MJ The Musical by visiting


bottom of page