Money Lessons From MJ: The Musical

I just returned from a trip to New York. While there, I went to go see MJ: The Musical. Although the show isn’t about money, per se, there are some interesting money lessons to be learned from it. And, of course, just going to see a Broadway show on Broadway has its own financial lessons to consider. Here’s what I learned about money from going to see MJ: The Musical.

What Is MJ: The Musical?

MJ the Musical is a Broadway show. It’s about the life of Michael Jackson as told through his songs. More specifically, it’s set during the rehearsals for his Dangerous Tour. There’s an MTV crew there filming the rehearsals, so we get to see stories of his life through interview-style flashbacks. As a result, we see his life up to the point of that tour through the lens of his songs. For example, in his early childhood, when he’s having difficulties with his demanding father, his mother comes in to his room and sings the song, “I’ll Be There.” The production has won several awards including 10 Tony nominations with 4 wins.

Ticket Cost for MJ: The Musical

Of course, it’s not cheap to see a Broadway show on Broadway. Even when I see touring Broadway shows here in San Francisco, tickets can get pricey. Therefore, even though I love Broadway shows, I don’t see them all that often. That said, it’s been on my bucket list forever to see a Broadway show on Broadway. We were there in New York with the day to spare so it only made sense to go see a show.

My brother has always been a huge Michael Jackson musical fan. He doesn’t go to see a lot of live theatre so it was the perfect show to pick. We needed to get three seats together because my mom was with us. And we needed to get them the day before the show so there were limited options. We were able to get seats in back left side of the mezzanine for about $200 per seat.

We worried that they might not be great seats but to move to the middle of the same row would cost another $100 per seat, and we didn’t think it would be worth that. However, there really isn’t a bad seat in that theatre and we were more than happy with where we ended up.

Was It Worth $200 Each?

I learned recently in a financial class that our expenses reflect our values and priorities. This was a bucket list item for me plus it was a show that I knew my brother would love. We don’t get to travel often together as a family, so it was a memorable experience for all of us to share. And I love to support live theatre as much as I possibly can. So, for me, it was worth $200 per ticket to see this show. However, this is also the reason that I don’t go to big shows very often. It’s not worth it to me to do all of the time. I’m happy to support local theatre at a much lower price most of the time instead. This was more of a special occasion event for me.

Standing Room Only Broadway Show Tickets

Just in case you’re not aware of this tip: sometimes you can get cheap standing room only seats at the back of Broadway shows in New York. Not all shows offer this option. Moreover, they typically only offer it if the show is otherwise sold out. And, obviously, you have to stand for the whole show. That said, you can et $25 tickets to some amazing shows if you’re willing to do standing room only on Broadway. This really wasn’t an option for us this time around because my mother wouldn’t have been comfortable standing for a nearly three hour show. However, it is a great tip to keep in mind.

Money Lessons From MJ: The Musical

Okay, so now that we’ve talked about the price of tickets to see MJ: The Musical, I wanted to talk about the money lessons from the story itself. Throughout the show, we see Michael talking to his manager and other professional support team about what he wants for the show. He wants elaborate props and amazing costumes and for everything to be perfect. They keep reminding him that all of that costs a lot of money. He doesn’t care; “make it happen.”

Moreover, his goal for the tour wasn’t to make a profit. Instead, it was to generate $100 million for his Heal the World charity. He doesn’t believe in cutting costs to make that happen. He believes, instead, in putting on the most amazing show possible to inspire people to give. He’s told that he’ll have to mortgage Neverland (his home) if he wants to make that happen. At first, he hesitates. The place is his sanctuary, his only safe space in a world that has a lot of negative stuff to say about him. However, by the end, he decides that if that’s what has to happen, he’ll sign the papers. 

What Lessons We Learn From This:

  • Our childhood experiences often shape our financial choices as adults. The story shows how Michael’s father always pushed him to be exceptional, and how this plays out in his need to create the perfect show at any cost.
  • No matter how much money you have, you can always struggle and find yourself in debt. Michael Jackson was rich many times over and yet was often in dire financial straits. Reportedly he was nearly half a billion dollars in debt at the time of his death.
  • If you believe in your dreams, you might have to give everything that you have in order to make them happen. Perhaps it’s better not to cut corners and to take those big risks in order to create the most amazing things.
  • It might feel good to give what you have to others. Despite his massive debt, Michael Jackson was also one of the biggest philanthropic givers the world has ever known.

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