Monday, May 27, 2024

Michael Jackson Broadway Musical Planned, But It’s Not So Easy as “ABC, 1-2-3” to Tell His Life Story


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.

Stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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