If they were smart, they’d beat it.
Producers of the new Michael Jackson musical said Thursday that they are brazenly moving forward with their misguided Broadway show, despite the tidal wave of controversy caused by the recent HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
The two-part TV film, which aired in March, revealed years of alleged sexual abuse of two young boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, by the late singer in the 1980s and ’90s.
The “King of Pop” died at 50 in 2009 from cardiac arrest “induced by acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication”
Normally, producing a Broadway musical is a way to make money, and to encourage art. But continuing with the Jackson musical, produced by none other than the Jackson estate, is nothing more than a stubborn crusade against men who say their lives have been destroyed by its main character. It will make audiences cringe.
When the show was first announced in June 2018, it had the unfortunate title of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and was slated for a Chicago tryout before coming to New York. After the bombshell doc premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the Chicago run was scrapped and its future seemed on wobbly ground.
No longer. The musical has been re-titled to the more low-key “MJ: The Musical,” perhaps in hopes that some excitable tourists will snap up tickets thinking it’s actually about Michael Jordan, or Spider-Man’s love interest, instead of an alleged child molester. It will begin performances July 6, 2020, at the Neil Simon Theatre.
For the creative team, Tony-winning director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon (“An American in Paris”) and playwright Lynn Nottage (“Sweat”), there is no way to win.
They will most likely ignore the disturbing allegations and, like the long-running “Thriller Live” in London, make it all about the music. The show is said to take place during rehearsals of 1992’s “Dangerous” tour. But why hire a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner like Nottage to prop up a simple concert? There will be some talking.
They could have the Jackson character outright deny the claims in a direct address, just as the Ghost of Donna Summer said she never uttered a word against gay people at the end of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” But that would unleash a Kraken of negative press. Or Jackson could vaguely apologize for the “mistakes” he’s made.
There is one giant problem in each of these circumstances: Audiences don’t want to think about child abuse at a jukebox musical on Broadway. No way.
The estate needs to wake up to the fact that the theater is not the radio, where Jackson still enjoys airplay. You can listen to “Billie Jean,” nod along and not fixate on what Jackson maybe did to those kids. Onstage, with a human being playing him, speaking and struggling, it’s all you’ll think about. That’ll be $400 for misery.
When the documentary first premiered, the Jackson estate released a statement calling it “yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
You know what else sounds like that? “MJ: The Musical.”
Source: Read Full Article