Broadway is getting a new King of Pop. Detroit native Elijah Rhea Johnson will make his Broadway debut starring as Michael Jackson in MJ The Musical at the Neil Simon Theatre beginning April 4, succeeding Tony winner Myles Frost in the role. Frost is set to play his final performance April 2.
Johnson joins the Broadway company after developing the role of Middle Michael throughout the musical's workshop process (the musical has three actors playing the King of Pop: as a child, a teen, and as an adult). At age nine, Johnson starred as Young Simba in The Lion King in Las Vegas and on tour. He's also performed with Kidz Bop and R&B boyband Mindless Behavior.
"Those of us who worked with Elijah during the developmental workshops knew when his schedule didn’t allow him to join the original Broadway cast, we hadn’t seen the last of him or his remarkable talent," says director-choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. "Though we might have initially seen him as ‘Middle Michael,’ it is so clear to me now that adult Michael is who he was born to play. Myles is leaving behind some pretty big loafers to fill, and Elijah is more than ready to wear them."
The musical features a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and a score made up of some of the most popular songs in recording history. Tony Award winner Wheeldon directs and choreographs.
MJ features sets by Derek McLane, lighting by Natasha Katz, costumes by Paul Tazewell, sound design by Gareth Owen, projection design by Peter Nigrini, hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe, music direction by Jason Michael Webb, musical supervision by David Holcenberg, and orchestrations by Holcenberg and Webb. Casting is by Rachel Hoffman of The Telsey Office.
Frost made history last year, becoming the youngest individual actor to win a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical.
MJ took home four Tony Awards in total, including Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design in a Musical, and Best Sound Design in a Musical.
MJ The Musical is poised to make its West End debut next year.