The Michael Jackson musical will no longer premiere in Chicago.
The musical, which had planned a world premiere in Chicago from Oct. 29 to Dec. 1, 2019 at the James M. Nederlander Theater, has cancelled that engagement “due to scheduling difficulties brought by the recent Actors’ Equity strike,” according to the Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage, the show’s producers. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” will now open cold on Broadway in the summer of 2020.
A lab for the musical had been specifically placed on Equity’s “Do Not Work” list, during the union’s monthlong strike against developmental work produced by the Broadway League. However, after Equity announced the end of its strike on Feb. 8, the lab did go on with actors and stage managers beginning developmental work on “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” on Feb. 11 under a new contract.
Because of that, Equity said it did not believe the strike would have been able to have that much of an impact on a production scheduled to take place in the fall. The Chicago cancellation came as a surprise to its members.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the actors and stage managers who are currently working to develop this project were not informed about a major production change before a public media announcement was made. The developmental lab that was scheduled for this production was delayed by 12 working days during the strike. It is difficult to understand how a modest delay in February would impact a run that was scheduled for late October,” Brandon Lorenz, communications director of the Actors’ Equity Association, said in a statement to Broadway News.
Michael Jackson’s estate has recently had to contend with allegations of abuse levied against Jackson by two young boys, as detailed in a documentary that premiered at Sundance in late January. The documentary has been picked up by HBO, where it is scheduled to air on March 3 and 4, despite reported pushback from the Jackson Estate.
The actors working on the Michael Jackson musical are working under a new agreement for developmental work, as part of the deal struck between Equity and the Broadway League. Under the new terms, the former lab agreement and workshop agreement have been eliminated in favor of a “developmental work” agreement broken into three tiers based on the number of weeks needed and the amount of movement and props needed.
Tier three, which covers the longest work period of two weeks to eight weeks, now includes a share of 1 percent of the Broadway profits for stage managers and actors who participate, once the show reaches 110% recoupment.
Before opening “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” will hold an additional developmental work session in New York this fall. The producers also announced that the first national tour will begin in Chicago.