Michael Jackson

By Tribune Staff

The full creative team was announced this week for “MJ,” the upcoming Broadway musical spotlighting Michael Jackson. The bio-musical will have previews beginning July 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre, with its formal opening Aug. 13. Lia Vollack Productions and the Michael Jackson Estate confirmed details Monday to The Hollywood Reporter. Ephraim Sykes had previously been announced as the lead performer. Derek McLane will be the principal scenic designer. McLane has won one Tony and two Emmy Awards for previous set designs on both plays and television shows.

Many members of the remaining creative team have also won multiple awards. They include Tony winner Jason Michael Webb, the production’s music director, who will share orchestration and arrangement duties with music supervisor David Holcenberg, and Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon, responsible for direction and choregraphy. Pulitizer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is doing the show’s book. Other creative team members include Natasha Katz (lighting),Paul Tazewell (costumes), Gareth Owne (sound), Peter Nigrini (projections) and Charles LaPointe (hair and wigs) 

“What I would say about the show is that Lynn Nottage and Christopher Wheeldon are really unique and brilliant theater artists and I think that what we have done for as long as there has been theater is told stories about all kinds of provocative individuals,” lead producer Vollack told the Hollywood Reporter in discussing the show earlier. “Michael Jackson was a figure in our history who has been dead for 10 years, who had a massive impact on music and dance, on how we view celebrity and race.”

McLane described his set designs in this manner, saying “The majority of the story is set inside a spacious, industrial dance rehearsal studio, but throughout the musical we find ourselves repeatedly transported into Michael’s mind — his memories and dreams. The alternating between dream sequences and reality gives us the chance to repeatedly surprise the audience.”

The time sequence for the production is linked to the rehearsal period for Jackson’s 1992 “Dangerous” tour.