Lia Vollack, a 22-year veteran of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s music and theater divisions, has formed a new company to develop Broadway productions, Deadline has confirmed. Lia Vollack Productions’ initial slate will include two shows already being prepped by Sony for 2020 premieres, including the controversial Michael Jackson musical.
The new company will produce the musicals, with Sony continuing on the projects as a partner.
In addition to MJ the Musical, Lia Vollack Productions will also produce Almost Famous, the musical based on Cameron Crowe’s 2000 film about a young Rolling Stone writer on tour with a big time rock band in the 1970s. The production, which received a pre-Broadway tryout at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater this fall, features an original score by Tom Kitt, with lyrics co-written by Kitt and Crowe. Directed by Jeremy Herrin, the musical also features a number of hit songs from the ’70s.
More attention-getting might be MJ the Musical, formerly known as Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. With a book by Lynn Nottage and choreography and direction by Christopher Wheeldon, the musical features the songbook of Michael Jackson as it presents the singer in rehearsals for his 1992 Dangerous tour.
The musical is set to begin previews July 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre, with an opening night of Aug. 13. A pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago originally scheduled for this fall was abandoned, with producers citing delays due to an earlier Actors’ Equity strike halting developmental labs
But Equity denied responsibility for the Chicago cancellation. In a statement released earlier this year, Equity said, “The developmental lab that was scheduled for this production was delayed by 12 working days during the strike. It is difficult to understand how a modest delay in February would impact a run that was scheduled for late October.”
The Chicago cancelation came as The Jackson Estate, a partner in the stage production, was involved in a battle of words with HBO over the then-upcoming documentary Leaving Neverland, which chronicled child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson.