The Michael Jackson estate and Columbia Live Stage are developing a new stage musical inspired by the life of the much-missed pop star. The as-yet untitled show is expected to arrive on Broadway in 2020 and it is expected to encompass many of Jackson’s greatest hits, including ‘Thriller’, ‘Beat It’ and ‘Smooth Criminal.’
Playwright Lynn Nottage has been commissioned to pen the book, while Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the show. The score will comprise hits from across Jackson’s massive catalogue. Nottage has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice, first in 2009 for Ruined – a play about women in war-torn Congo – and more recently in 2017 for Sweat, which is about residents in Reading, Pennsylvania, one of the poorest cities in America.
Nottage is currently writing the book for the world premiere musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. It will premiere at the Atlantic Theatre Company in spring 2019, directed by Sam Gold.
British-born Christopher Wheeldon is an acclaimed choreographer and director best known for adapting the 1951 film An American in Paris into a Broadway musical. The show won several Tony Awards, with Wheeldon picking up the trophy for Best Choreography. Among Wheeldon’s other CV entries are his full-length 2014 ballet Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland at the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden and his freshly-choreographed Nutcracker along with Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet in 2016.
The Broadway musical marks a new type of stage venture for the Jackson estate, which previously sanctioned two Cirque du Soleil shows, Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and Michael Jackson: One. Other projects the estate has produced in recent years include the 2017 compilation Scream, a 3-D rendering of the famed ‘Thriller’ video and two posthumous albums, Michael and Xscape.
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