The long-in-the-works Michael Jackson musical, MJ: The Musical, has replaced its star, Ephraim Sykes. Sykes was forced to drop out of the production due to scheduling conflicts, and now Myles Frost will now portray Jackson when the show premieres later this year.
MJ was supposed to premiere last year, but was of course delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The show is now set to begin performances in December, but for Sykes — a Broadway vet who’d been in productions of Hamilton and the Temptations musical Ain’t Too Proud — the new timing conflicted with production on a feature film he’s scheduled to shoot.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I depart MJ,” Sykes said in a statement. “This year has brought a lot of change and opportunity, and although it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to an iconic role and production, I look forward to what is to come. Thank you to the MJ team and congratulations to Myles. I can’t wait to see you shine as the King of Pop and for us all to celebrate the return of Broadway.”
For Frost, MJ will mark the performer’s Broadway debut. According to what appears to be Frost’s IMDB page, he’s worked in the music department on the Netflix sitcom, Family Reunion, and appeared in the 2019 movie All In. Last October he released a single that happens to be titled, “Dangerous.”
MJ is set to begin preview performances on Broadway on December 6th, with opening night scheduled for February 1st, 2022 at the Neil Simon Theatre. MJ, which has the backing of the Jackson estate, was directed by Christopher Wheeldon and written by Pulitzer-winning playwright Lynn Nottage.
Prior to the Covid-19 delay, the show notably called off a 2019 run in Chicago. This was not long before the premiere of Leaving Neverland, the controversial documentary about Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse toward minors. At the time, however, the Jackson estate and the production blamed a strike by the actors’ union, Actors Equity, for creating scheduling conflicts and delays that forced the cancellation.