PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Pop Show's Capathia Jenkins, Leslie McDonel and N'Kenge Pick Favorite Michael Jackson Songs
By Michael Gioia
Capathia Jenkins (Newsies, Martin Short: Fame Become Me), N'Kenge (Motown, Sondheim on Sondheim) and Leslie McDonel (American Idiot, Hairspray) are among the performers who will interpret the songs of Michael Jackson at the Sept. 16 edition of The Pop Show. In anticipation of the concert, the trio pick their favorite Jackson tunes as part of Playbill.com's Playbill Playlist series.
The 7 PM concert at Birdland will also feature William Blake (Echoes of Etta, The Who's Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show), John Duff (Bayside! The Musical!, Rent), Billboard recording artist Matt Cusson, Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins (A Time To Kill, Carole, or Change, Radio Golf, The Wild Party, Jelly's Last Jam, Play On!), Grammy Award nominee Ryan Shaw (Motown), A.J. Shively (La Cage aux Folles, Unlock'd, February House) Rachel Valdati (My Big Gay Italian Wedding) and "American Idol" finalist Erika Van Pelt.
John Capo is the creator and producer of The Pop Show, which is part of the Broadway at Birdland series presented by Jim Caruso. The Michael Jackson concert will feature music direction by Benet Braun.
The Pop Show Presents…Michael Jackson! promises "songs from this groundbreaking album and nine others, as well as stories from Michael's career and the inspirations behind the music."
Playbill.com reached out to Jenkins, N'Kenge and McDonel via email to pick their five favorite Michael Jackson tunes and tell us why they made their list.
Birdland is located at 315 West 44th Street. For more information and tickets, call (212) 581-3080 or visit PopShowNYC.com.
Capathia Jenkins: "Wanna Be Startin' Something" My all-time favorite MJ song. I live for the "mama se mama sa mamacusa" break down at the end.
Capathia Jenkins: "Rock With You" I loved the dance we used to do to this song when I was growing up. I might have to do the step when I sing this at The Pop Show. Such a sexy song.
Capathia Jenkins: "Man in the Mirror" Beautiful lyric and amazing vocal arrangement — very much like a church service with the choir in the background while the preacher brings the message home.
Capathia Jenkins: "Remember The Time" Great intro. As soon as it starts and the beat comes in, I'm up dancing. Love the video too — gorgeous people in Africa, the Motherland!
Capathia Jenkins: "I'll Be There" This is where it all began for me. I fell in love with the Jackson 5 because of Michael and that voice. And what style!
N'Kenge: "Man in the Mirror" Who doesn't like this song? It's such an international imprint on Michael Jackson's greatest songs list. A great song that always keeps things in perspective.
N'Kenge: "Beat It" Such a classic song. Loved the video, too. I got to perform it every night when I did the Man in the Mirror Tribute Show World Tour, and it was such a rush to sing that song. It was by far one of my favorites.
N'Kenge: "Thriller" I love this song because it's so theatrical. Who would have known he'd come out with this? Just genius. Spectacular video as well. He really set the bar after this great song.
N'Kenge: "Earth Song" This song truly represents Michael Jackson being socially conscious. He was a huge contributor to many charities, and it was wonderful to see him successfully express his passion in this magnificent song.
N'Kenge: "Billie Jean" This song is a masterpiece. I love it so much and even more when I knew it was inspired by a true-life experience of his. This song secured Michael Jackson as being a top pop artist of all time.
Leslie McDonel: "Billie Jean" I definitely knew every word to this song as a kid, and the lyrics went right over my head. It's funny to imagine myself at seven singing, "The kid is not my son!!" with such conviction.
Leslie McDonel: "Dirty Diana" It's sexy…and very rock 'n' roll. I love the guitar in this song, and I'm excited to sing it at The Pop Show next week!
Leslie McDonel: "Scream" It's Michael and Janet together… And that video! That knee slide. I love when she performed it live alongside his video image at his tribute.
Leslie McDonel: "Thriller" You can't not dance to this song. And, when I was a kid and the Vincent Price part started, my dad would look at me like he was possessed and lock all the car doors, and I would get so scared. I loved it.
Leslie McDonel: "Beat It" I mean, I think this is every child of the 80s' favorite song, right?
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