The musical, loaded with classic hits by the later King of Pop, will begin preview performances on Monday, July 6, 2020, at the Neil Simon Theatre, with an opening night set for Thursday, August 13.
The casting announcement was made by producers Lia Vollack and The Michael Jackson Estate. Producers have released a sneak peek teaser video – watch it below.
Sykes is currently on Broadway in another Motown-inspired musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, playing the group’s David Ruffin. He was nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award yesterday for the show’s cast album, along with the rest of the original cast.
“Ephraim Sykes is a bonafide triple threat,” said Wheeldon in a statement, “and dynamic rising star on Broadway. I am honored to be working with him on this exciting new production.”
Sykes’ other credits include NBC’s Hairspray Live!, Smash, Vinyl, among others. Broadway credits include Hamilton, Memphis, Motown and Newsies.
MJ will feature a book by Lynn Nottage, with Christopher Wheeldon on board to direct and choreograph. Initially titled Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, the musical had been set to debut in a pre-Broadway Chicago run, but the try-out was canceled with producers citing delays due to a then-recent Actors Equity strike. Equity challenged the reasoning. The cancelation roughly coincided with the launch on HBO of the damning Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland.
The production also posted a short teaser video for the musical. Watch it below.