A musical based on the King of Pop’s life will be coming to Broadway, and it’s a good bet that Michael Jackson’s legion of fans couldn’t be happier. According to Entertainment Weekly, the project is in development and on track to debut in 2020. The news was confirmed to them by The Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage, which are developing the production together. Details are sketchy so far but the untitled musical’s book will be written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat) and directed and choreographed by Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon (An American in Paris). Of course, the music will be pulled from his vast library of top-selling songs, though there hasn’t been any confirmation of which songs will be used.
As EW speculated, the musical could go in any number of directions. It could go the dramatic route, focusing on the trauma of his childhood, along with the many scandals that plagued the King of Pop during his later years. Of course, this project is sanctioned by the Estate, so it could end up purely focused on his rise to international stardom, from being discovered along with his brothers in the Jackson 5, through his decision to go it alone, to his meteoric rise with his solo albums.
Jackson, who passed away at age 50 on June 25, 2009, enjoyed unprecedented success with his music career. His album Thriller remains the best selling of all time, while his other albums, including Off the Wall, Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory, also rank among the world’s best-selling albums. Needless to say, there is no lack of source material to pull from in making the musical, which will undoubtedly have another hit on their hands when the show’s original cast recording of the CD is released.
This musical is sure to be very different from Cirque’s Michael Jackson show called ONE that has been underway at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas since 2013. That spectacle is more about acrobatics, dance, and visuals set to his music. This was their second Michael Jackson-based production after Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. As for the Broadway musical, with Nottage on board, who wrote for the first season of Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It, you have someone who is best known for hard-hitting dramatic work so this show will more than likely showcase his compelling story, whichever way they choose to focus on it. Of course, the most interesting and pressing question is who will the producers pick to play Jackson. As EW noted, it’s pretty obvious that a long and comprehensive search is probably underway.