Eric B. Anthony performs admirably in the quixotic theatrical production, an interpretation of the megastar's life by an alien from the deep cosmos. Courtesy Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan Theater
‘For Love of a Glove’ shines harsh light on King of Pop’s controversial life
By K. GERARD THOMAS and DENISE THOMAS, Contributing Writers
HOLLYWOOD — It has been more than a year since the coronavirus put a damper on the entertainment industry from movie theaters to the stage. The virus shuttered playhouses from Broadway to theatrical venues the world over faster than a bad review from the late stage critic Walter Winchell.
Unfortunately the stage production, “For Love of a Glove” was not immune and left fans longing for more. The play had to extend its closing dates due to the growing fan base, and as a result received three nominations for the Los Angeles Ovation Awards. They include, Best Lyrics-Composition of a Musical: Director/ writer Julian Nitzberg, Max Townsley, Drew Erickson, and Nicole Morier; Best Lead Actor in a Musical: Eric B. Anthony (Michael Jackson); and Best Costumes: Ann Farley.
“For the Love of a Glove” had its gala opening night on Jan. 25, 2020 at the Carl (Cosmos) Sagan & Ann Druyan Theater in Los Angeles. It is described as an unauthorized musical fable about Michael Jackson’s life — as told by his glove.”
Nitzberg, a native New Yorker, had an idea and researched it thoroughly. He combined the R-rated version of Sesame Street, Avenue Q, with the racist religiosity of The Book of Mormon; to this he added the stunning vocals of Suzanne Nichols, who plays Katherine Jackson; and Eric B. Andrews, who portrays, Michael Jackson, just to name a few of the talented cast, to create a highly controversial and provocative entrée to the LA theater scene.
The production takes the audience on a humorous trip into the life of the Jackson family. From their humble beginnings in Gary, Ind., in 1955 to Michael Jackson’s burgeoning singular superstardom in 1984. His controversial life filled with sensitive issues such as child abuse, religious dogma, questionable sexuality, racism, and his notoriously bizarre behavior which made him an enigma, is displayed and explained with dark humor, satire and moments of absurdity.
Many of Jackson’s fans were baffled trying to decipher the megastar, who grandly and unquestionably garnered the title, the King of Pop, without a murmur of protest.
The awesome task of taking on a life of such magnitude is approached with witty puppetry, directed by Robin Walsh, brilliant writing, and an amazing ensemble cast. The musicality of the performers is met with catchy and memorable R&B compositions by Drew Ericson, Nicole Morier, and Max Townsley.
The story is not politically correct and may not appeal to an older audience, which at its core, contains raunchy sex scenes and coarse language, which by the last act is readily cleaned up with a healthy dose of sanctification and righteousness.
The songs in this play depict the twisted and confused life of the outlier, a young boy forced into adulthood at an early age, who had to grope with the fickleness of stardom with none of the safeguards of religion. God is mentioned but his presence is not felt. This is a raw, unapologetic, immensely funny view of the irrepressible Superstar’s life, told from the perspective of his best friend — the iconic silver glove.
Ironically, the play’s structure mirrors Jackson’s life. The first half, with the exception of how the glove enters his life, is highly plausible and easy to understand. On the other hand, the second half nose dives into the bewildering events with equally bewildering explanations, such as Michael’s obsession with young boys, his chimpanzee Bubbles, and his addiction to sleeping pills.
Theater-goers will definitely have something to discuss afterwards as the play seeks to push everyone’s sensibilities to and fro. One moment we are enamored with Jackson, another perplexed by him. It truly reflects what fans felt about his intriguing life.
K. Gerard Thomas and Denise Thomas are freelance writers living in Los Angeles.