amBroadway | ‘MJ’ recoups early investment, ‘Parade’ cast performs at White House, and more

Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in "Parade."
Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in “Parade.”
Photo by Joan Marcus

When the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” aired in 2019, it was generally questioned whether a Michael Jackson bio-jukebox musical should still be produced on Broadway as planned. Nevertheless, “MJ,” which opened on Broadway in January 2022 in the midst of the uncertainty and chaos created by the omicron variant, went on to become a genuine hit.

Last week, the show’s producers announced that the production had recouped its initial investment costs of approximately $22.5 million, making it one of the relatively few Broadway productions to reach traditional “hit” status.

Site-specific drama to play Federal Hall

“The Democracy Project,” a new site-specific play about New York’s Federal Hall and the short-lived period when New York City was the first capital of the U.S. government, will be performed at the Federal Hall National Memorial in Lower Manhattan for free for a month beginning June 22.

It is the joint work of six playwrights including Larissa Fasthorse (“The Thanksgiving Play”), Michael R. Jackson (“A Strange Loop”), and Bruce Norris (“Clybourne Park”). Fans of “Hamilton” are likely to recall “The Room Where It Happens,” the song in act two which goes into the Compromise of 1790 and how the nation’s capital got moved to Washington, D.C.

For info on reserving complimentary tickets, visit federalhall.org.

‘Parade’ stars mark Jewish Heritage Month at White House

Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond, who are co-starring in the acclaimed Broadway revival of “Parade,” and songwriter Jason Robert Brown performed songs from “Parade” at the White House on Wednesday to mark Jewish American Heritage Month. The event was livestreamed and an archived version can be viewed on YouTube.

“Parade,” which examines the circumstances surrounding Leo Frank’s wrongful conviction for murder in a frenzy of anti-Semitism in the early 20th Century South and his own eventual murder by armed vigilantes, is currently nominated for six Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Musical.

Jeremy Strong to lead ‘An Enemy of the People’ on Broadway

In 2008, long before he won fame as Kendall Roy on the HBO drama “Succession,” Jeremy Strong appeared on Broadway in a supporting role in a forgettable revival of “A Man for All Seasons.” Earlier that same year, he played Baruch de Spinoza in David Ives’ excellent drama “New Jerusalem,” which was produced Off-Broadway by Classic Stage Company and deserved to transfer to Broadway.

Next season, 16 years since his last Broadway appearance, Strong will star in a revival of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People,” which chronicles the efforts of a town doctor to bring to light his findings that a local spa has poisoned water and should be shut down despite fierce resistance from his neighbors.

The production will be directed by Sam Gold (“Fun Home”) and use a new version of the text by Amy Herzog. “An Enemy of the People” was last revived on Broadway in 2012. In 2021, as New York theaters were in the process of reopening, Ann Dowd starred in a bizarre one-woman adaptation of the play at the Park Avenue Armory.

Short-lived musical ‘Soul Doctor’ goes to the movies

In 2013, “Soul Doctor,” a bio musical about the life of rabbi and singer-composer Shlomo Carlebach and his relationship with Nina Simone, played a short run on Broadway.

In my review, I wrote that it came off as a sanitized, overstuffed mix of “The Jazz Singer,” Fiddler on the Roof” and “Hair.” I never expected to hear of “Soul Doctor” again and I am not aware of any post-Broadway productions.

Nevertheless, “Soul Doctor” has apparently been made into a “Broadway movie-musical,” which will play 600 movie theaters nationally on June 13. The film cast includes Josh Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar”), Nya (“Caroline, or Change”), and Emily Padgett (“Side Show”).