The Michael Jackson Estate is said to be producing a Broadway musical about the King of Pop. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage is writing the book. Tony Award winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is directing. The music will be drawn from Michael’s catalog of hits. But that may be a problem. Is it also drawing from the Jackson 5’s hits? Probably yes. And that means the surviving Jacksons will want a cut of the action.
Indeed, if they’re going to be portrayed on Broadway, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, and Jackie Jackson are not going to sit by and see their “life story” rake in millions without getting a taste of the action.
And then, what is the “life story”? Nottage’s plays are tough and unsparing. Will this musical examine how the Jackson kids were reportedly beaten and worked to the bone by their father? Will Michael’s terror over being locked in a closet for not rehearsing properly be depicted?
Even if Michael’s story is sanitized, Nottage can only really take it though the 1980s, with “Thriller” and “Bad.” If the story proceeds any further, things will get strange — certainly by Broadway standards. That would mean Jackson whitening his skin, becoming a PR freak with chimps and hyperbaric chambers, Brooke Shields, Emmanuel Lewis, and Bubbles the chimp; payoffs to families of accusing children, and so on.
So I would expect the musical to end with the song “Thriller” and go out on that album being the best selling LP of all time. Still, Nottage will have to deal in some way with Michael’s childhood. And the producers will have to negotiate fees for telling the life stories of just Michael. Even with Jackie Jackson on the Estate payroll, we can expect Jermaine, at least, to raise a ruckus.