It is now jarring to hear a Michael Jackson song at a wedding, or a coffee shop, or on shuffle via an old Spotify playlist. The allegations made against him in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland are beyond harrowing, and though perhaps we should have been taking the pedophilia accusations that swirled around him for decades more seriously before this, there is no better time than the present to rethink Jackson’s legacy.
And yet, the producers behind the upcoming Michael Jackson Broadway musical, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, say the show must go on. Playwright Lynn Nottage and director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon told The New York Times they’re moving forward with the musical, even though Jackson’s ripe for collective cancellation at this point.
“This is obviously challenging — it makes this not without its complications, for sure — but part of what we do as artists is we respond to complexity,” Wheeldon said, when asked about the project. Nottage added, “I see the artwork that we’re making as a way to more deeply understand Michael Jackson and process feelings, and ultimately that’s what theater can do.”
Though Nottage, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for both Sweat and Ruined, told the Daily Mail recently that she believed Jackson’s accusers in Leaving Neverland, she backtracked a little to the Times:
NOTTAGE What I was saying, and what I was getting at, is that the men came across as very believable. But here’s the caveat: Were they ultimately telling the truth? I cannot 100 percent say so, because I’m not judge and jury, and it’s not my place to do that.
Wheeldon says they’ll “studying the many facets” of Jackson and ultimately “paint a balanced picture” of the artist. It feels like maaaaaaaybe they could just scrap the project altogether for the time being, at least until more allegations against Jackson do or do not come out, but I guess this is why I don’t win the Pulitzers.