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Michael Jackson Musical Turns Down Volume on Abuse Allegations

In an interview in April 2019, a month after HBO released the documentary, Nottage and Wheeldon said they remained committed to the project, but were still processing their reactions to the documentary. Neither would say whether they believed Jackson was a child molester, and both said they did not see adjudicating that question as their role.

“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. He added: “We’re sensitive to what’s going on and we’ll see whether it works into the show or not. But the primary focus of our show has always been focusing on Michael’s creative process.”

Nottage said she aspired to craft “a musical that everyone can come to, regardless of how they feel about Michael Jackson.”

“I see the artwork that we’re making as a way to more deeply understand Michael Jackson and process feelings,” she said, “and ultimately that’s what theater can do.”

On Tuesday, asked about the show’s narrative choices, Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the musical, noted that Jackson remains “a global cultural icon,” and said, “The producers hope the work, performance, and storytelling of the show’s talented Broadway creators, who have collaborated on this production since 2016, will make a valuable contribution to the continuing examination of the artistry, creativity and music of one of the most controversial and consequential artists of the modern era.”

The musical, which currently features a whopping 37 songs (some performed in their entirety, and others as excerpts), has one reference to concerns about Jackson’s closeness to children, when one of the singer’s managers asks another employee “Who the hell is this family he wants to bring on tour?”

And then, during a news conference, as reporters pelt Jackson with questions about his surgeries, his skin color, and so on, one asks “What do you have to say about the recent allegations that you —” without finishing the thought.

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