In an interview with the New York Times, Pulitzer-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and director-choreographer Christopher Wheeldon admitted that while they are troubled by the child molestation accusations against Jackson, “We’re not judge and jury.”
“Folks have to remember we’re theater artists that are examining the life of this very complicated artist. We can ask certain questions, but our job is not to answer those questions,” Nottage said.
Nottage – who drew the ire of Jackson fans when she said of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, the subjects of Leaving Neverland, “I think they were telling the truth” – reiterated that their accusations seem “very believable.”
“Do I believe [Jackson] was a pedophile? I don’t know that I can say one way or the other,” Nottage told the Times. “I don’t think any of us can say with absolute certainty, because we’ve been presented with some information, but Michael Jackson is dead, he’s not in a position to defend himself. It does hurt my heart to think about the possibility that it could be true, and I pray that it isn’t true, and that’s all I can do.”
Wheeldon added, “The recent documentary is very believable, but our position in making this show is that we’re trying to make a show that’s balanced.”
The Jackson estate didn’t restrict Nottage and Wheeldon during the creation of the show, and while the jukebox musical might touch on some of the “problematic” aspects of Jackson’s career, “the primary focus of our show has always been focusing on Michael’s creative process,” Wheeldon said.
Originally scheduled to debut on Broadway in the fall of 2019, the arrival of Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough was delayed after its Chicago preview run was canceled by the Jackson estate ostensibly due to a month-long actors strike in February; the cancellation coincided with the then-impending broadcast of Leaving Neverland. However, the musical is now back on track and eyeing a summer 2020 Broadway arrival.