UPDATE: The Michael Jackson musical has changed its name from Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough to MJ, according to Variety. Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the show, said of the change, “As the show has evolved through its development process, the production felt that MJ was a better and stronger choice than relying on the title of any one individual song.” MJ is still scheduled to premiere on Broadway next summer.
Last summer, the Michael Jackson estate and Columbia Live Stage announced that they were developing a new stage musical inspired by the life of the dead pop star. On Wednesday, they confirmed it will be titled Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. The production will have its out-of-town premiere in Chicago (beginning October 29th and running through December 1st) at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, before transferring to Broadway some time in 2020.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Sweat in 2017, Ruined in 2009) will pen the book, and Tony-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon (An American in Paris) will direct and choreograph the show. The score will comprise hits from across Jackson’s massive catalogue.
“This is not a Cirque du Soleil show, nor a tribute show, nor a hagiography,” Nottage told the Chicago Tribune. “We are endeavoring to tell the story of one moment in the life of a very complicated man whose life was very fraught.”
According to Nottage, the musical is focused on the making of the Dangerous World Tour, with the playwright adding, “We are homing in on the making of the music. Michael will always come with some controversy.”
Wheeldon also spoke to the Chicago Tribune, saying: “We are all very clear that we don’t want this to be a concert or an impersonation show. We want it to be a portrait of the artist, a man of contradictions that contained so much beauty. A life like Michael’s was so rich, dense and troubled. But there were these moments of great lightness. We are interested in celebrating Michael, and in breaking down his songs and really listening to them.”
The jukebox musical arrives after The Cher Show premiered on Broadway this year and before Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations is set to open this spring after playing to packed audiences in Toronto and Los Angeles. Head Over Heels, which used the music of the Go-Gos to tell an adaptation of a 16th-century poem, recently closed on Broadway as did a musical based on Jimmy Buffet’s songbook, Escape to Margaritaville. These musicals have mostly attracted fans who come for the familiar tunes in an unusual setting, rather than the often scattershot storytelling.
The Jackson estate previously sanctioned two Cirque du Soleil shows, Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and Michael Jackson: One. The estate has also produced other projects in recent years, including the 2017 compilation Scream, a 3-D rendering of the famed “Thriller” video and two posthumous albums, Michael and Xscape.