Despite Michael Jackson's Molestation Allegations, MJ The Musical Will Hit Broadway This Summer
The hotly-debated Michael Jackson biomusical is back on. Not that it was ever officially off, but after its pre-Broadway Chicago run was canceled in February, its future seemed shaky.
Now, the show has secured a Broadway theater, with previews starting July 6 at the Neil Simon Theater.
Already, the musical has been through several stages of change: The Chicago cancellation occurred following the release of Leaving Neverland, the HBO documentary that delves into accusations that Jackson molested children, including choreographer Wade Robson. Early on, writer Lynn Nottage and director–choreographer Christopher Wheeldon had said that they imagined the show would address these allegations—though they had always been denied by Jackson himself—and that it planned to focus on his early-1990s era, as he prepared for a tour to promote his "Dangerous" album. It's not clear if either of those ideas have been retooled.
One thing that definitely has been retooled is the musical's name: Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough is now simply MJ The Musical.
And the show continues to evolve—it's currently in the midst of its third developmental workshop.
With Wheeldon on board, we expect no shortage of stellar dancing. But the fact that the musical is still happening is surprising. While some diehard Jackson fans are rallying in support amidst the accusations, others have had enough. (Earlier this year, writer Alison Feller penned an op-ed for Dance Magazine stating that despite Jackson's indelible mark on our culture, it's time to stop dancing to his songs.)
This spring, Nottage admitted to The Daily Mail that she believes Jackson's accusers, and described the pop star as "an immensely flawed human being." Later in a New York Times interview, Nottage and Wheeldon spoke further about their thoughts on the controversy, without outright taking sides. The pair said they intend to paint a balanced picture of Jackson, with Wheeldon noting, "part of what we do as artists is we respond to complexity."
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Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
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But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
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