Lynn Nottage, a Pulitzer Prize winner for her plays Ruined and Sweat, will write the show’s book. The choreography and direction will be handled by Christopher Wheeldon, a Tony Award winner for An American in Paris.
The project adds to a growing roster of jukebox musicals hitting Broadway of late. The past season brought shows built on the music of Jimmy Buffett and Donna Summer. Upcoming are shows based on the Go-Gos and Cher. Possible Broadway entries are in the offing for the Temptations, Tina Turner and Alanis Morrissette. A Bob Dylan-based show has an Off-Broadway run set for the fall.
The success of jukebox shows such as Jersey Boys (based on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), Mamma Mia (Abba) and Beautiful (Carole King) offers producers a road map. While the productions don’t always charm critics, they can turn into pre-sold moneymakers at a time when the cost to mount a production continues to climb and profitability is often an elusive goal.
Nearly a decade after his death in 2009, Jackson remains in the pop-culture spotlight. He has been the subject of a staged concert, Thriller Live, that has played for a decade in London. The Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson ONE has run for the past few years in Las Vegas. Concert documentary Michael Jackson’s This Is It came out posthumously in 2009, grossing $261 million worldwide.
Spike Lee’s documentary, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, premiered on Showtime 2016 after premiering at Sundance.