It’s official: A musical based on the life of Michael Jackson is in development, and on track to make a Broadway premiere in 2020.
The news, confirmed by EW, comes jointly from The Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage, which are developing the production together. Details are sparse: What’s known so far is that 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), with “a score made up of some of the best-loved, top-selling songs in recording history.”
Obviously, an MJ musical could go in several directions: The King of Pop’s expansive music career was among the most successful and acclaimed of all-time, plagued as it was by trauma from his childhood and his various reputation-tarnishing controversies, including allegations of child abuse. (The first scandal in 1993 was settled out of court, and Jackson was acquitted of all charges on the second, in 2005.) This will mark the first time a Broadway-bound musical sanctioned by the Estate will go into development; no famous songs of Jackson, who died in 2009, have been confirmed for use here yet.
Nottage, who wrote for the first season of Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It, is best-known for her hard-hitting dramatic work. She is also, however, writing the book for the upcoming Secret Life of Bees musical adaptation, to be directed by Sam Gold. And as to who will play Jackson, it’s safe to say that a long and comprehensive search should be underway. Until then, let the theorizing and speculation begin, because folks, this is not a drill.