By MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — “MJ,” the hit-filled Broadway musical about the King of Pop, got a huge bump at the box office after nabbing four Tony Awards and getting valuable exposure in front of millions during its electric telecast performance.
The Michael Jackson show may have lost the best new musical crown to “A Strange Loop,” but it won the best actor in a musical trophy for Myles Frost and pulled in $1,661,000 during the week after the Tonys. That’s the biggest box office jump last week on Broadway and a new high for the show.
“That’s one of the benefits of being able to be Tony nominated is that you have the opportunity to perform on the Tonys and to be able to put our show in front of so many people who are avid theater lovers,” said Lia Vollack, the lead producer.
Another show that got a post-Tonys bounce was “A Strange Loop,” which grossed $845,313 for the week ending June 19, a jump of $168,998 over the previous week and a new high for the show.
Others musicals saw more modest gains, like “Six” and “Paradise Square,” with a show-stealing performance by best actress in a musical Joaquina Kalukango.
“MJ” is set during Jackson’s 1992 “Dangerous” tour prep and melts back in time to explore his youth, with songs like “ABC,” “Black or White,” “Blame it on the Boogie,” “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.” It also won Christopher Wheeldon the Tony for best choreography.
“MJ” plans a national tour kicking off in Chicago in July 2023, with a stop in Charlotte, North Carolina, that September. Vollack spoke from London, leading to speculation a West End production might be mounted. On Broadway, the show been sold out every performance since the Tonys and advance sales are said to be booming.
Because “MJ” is not a star vehicle, Vollack hopes to be able to replicate finding someone as talented as Frost to lead other companies. “I do think that there is amazing talent in the world, and we’re looking forward to finding people for years to come and in different companies hopefully to perform the role,” she said.
The Tony Awards reached 4.22 million viewers on June 12, a bounce-back for Broadway after last year’s show in September was seen by 2.75 million people. Many took to Twitter in amazement after seeing Frost moonwalk during his performance of “Smooth Criminal.”
Vollack was gracious in her Tony wins, saying “any show that managed to perform in this last season actually deserves a Tony.”
“I was so proud to be a part of this season and be a part of this community because this community is so resilient and dedicated and wanting to create,” said Vollack, whose other Broadway credits include “Shuffle Along,” “Tootsie” and the forthcoming “Almost Famous.”
Exposure on the Tony telecast usually translates into higher box office numbers the following week ,but that was definitely not the case with “The Music Man,” which lost $1,631,334. Star Hugh Jackman was not performing because of a second bout with COVID-19.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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