The upcoming world premiere of the jukebox musical MJ is poised to commence preview performances on Monday, July 6th, toward a Thursday, August 13th opening at the Neil Simon Theatre. We already know that Tony-nominee Ephraim Sykes (Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations) will portray the musical’s central character, pop superstar Michael Jackson. Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph.
Additional casting information for MJ was announced today by Lia Vollack Productions and The Michael Jackson Estate. Joining Sykes at the Neil Simon Theatre will be Grammy Award nominee Quentin Earl Darrington, Whitney Bashor, Gabriel Ruiz, Antoine L. Smith, Joey Sorge, Darius Barnes, Raymond Baynard, Coral Dolphin, John Edwards, Ayana George, Kali May Grinder, Apollo Levine, Ryan VanDenBoom, Lamont Walker II, Naomi C. Walley, and Zelig Williams.
MJ will feature a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat) and a score made up of some of the best-loved, top-selling, and most iconic songs in recording history.
Michael Jackson, a controversial and celebrated artist of the pop music industry, started his illustrious career as a child, singing with his siblings in the 60s/70s music group The Jackson 5. As Jackson entered adulthood, he launched a stratospheric solo career, recording such hits as “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “The Man in the Mirror,” “Black or White,” and co-wrote “We Are the World” with Lionel Ritchie, a song that served as a fundraising album that brought together popular music superstars, benefitting USA for Africa.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His latest book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, released on October 15. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.
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