MJ: The Musical is getting two new additions to its Broadway roster that will move the audience come opening night — literally. Billboard can reveal that iconic choreography duo Rich and Tone Talauega have joined director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon for the Michael Jackson-inspired musical.
The Talauega brothers have made their mark within the music industry, creating memorable dances for Jennifer Lopez (“Get Right”), Chris Brown (“Fine China”), Madonna (“4 Minutes,” Rebel Heart Tour), and more, even collaborating with Michael Jackson himself. Working with Wheeldon to ensure the musical authentically captures Michael Jackson’s movements, the brothers share what it was like working with Jackson, how they’re planning to infuse the production with the King of Pop’s signature style, and how the musical’s star, Myles Frost, compares.
“There are stories that go with each move or nuance of Michael’s style of dance. Stories that he shared with us that have meaning to why he moves. This gives purpose…intent in which in most cases can create a compass for that dancer or performer. Those stories are what we share to help the cast learn his dance style and nuances,” the duo tells Billboard.
Speaking about a lesson they learned from Michael, the duo says the King of Pop “was quite the philosopher listening to him talk about the art of dance and music. He always said that his music comes from the ‘universe’ and that he is a conduit, and that being ‘open’ to be able to receive it is the work. ‘Always listen to the music and you’ll be able to feel what’s right.'”
“Working with Rich and Tone over the last three years of our developmental process has been exceptional and I am so thrilled to announce them,” Wheeldon says of the duo’s involvement with MJ: The Musical. “It has been very exciting to have them as a part of my team as their first-hand knowledge both of Michael’s life on tour and movement languages is invaluable and informed the authenticity of our show.”
Opening night is still a few months from now, but the Talauega brothers are already impressed with Frost’s work ethic. “We just started working with Myles…attention to detail is what is similar so far. Michael’s attention to detail was beyond any other human,” they said. “To get even close to that is ideal to portray him in a show. Myles is on the right track and all we’re here to do is keep him on that track.”
MJ: The Musical is set to premiere at the Neil Simon Theatre on Feb. 1, 2022, with previews beginning on Dec. 6.