CAST ANNOUNCED FOR “MJ” THE MUSICAL ON BROADWAY
FOR RELEASE ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2020
BROADWAY CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR
PREVIEW PERFORMANCES WILL BEGIN ON MONDAY, JULY 6TH
AT BROADWAY’S NEIL SIMON THEATRE
OPENING NIGHT IS THURSDAY, AUGUST 13TH AT 6:30 P.M.
New York, NY – Lia Vollack Productions and The Michael Jackson Estate announced today the official cast for the upcoming World Premiere of MJ the musical on Broadway. Preview performances will begin on Monday, July 6th, with Opening Night set for Thursday, August 13th at 6:30 p.m., at the Neil Simon Theatre, New York City.
Joining the previously announced Ephraim Sykes, the Tony® and Grammy Award® nominee who has been cast to star as Michael Jackson, will be Grammy Award nominee Quentin Earl Darrington, Whitney Bashor, Gabriel Ruiz, Antoine L. Smith, Joey Sorge, Darius Barnes, Raymond Baynard, Coral Dolphin, John Edwards, Ayana George, Kali May Grinder, Apollo Levine, Ryan VanDenBoom, Lamont Walker II, Naomi C. Walley, and Zelig Williams.
As previously announced, MJ will feature a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize® winner Lynn Nottage and a score made up of some of the best-loved, top-selling, and most iconic songs in recording history. Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph.
Casting is by Telsey + Company/Rachel Hoffman, C.S.A. Additional cast and creatives will be announced at a later date.
Ephraim Sykes (Michael Jackson) currently stars as David Ruffin in Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations. For this role he earned a Tony nomination, a Chita Rivera Award, the Helen Hayes Award, the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, Theater Bay Area Award, The Actors’ Equity Clarence Derwent Award, and nominations from the Drama League and Outer Critics Circle. Sykes also starred as Ruffin in the World Premiere of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations at Berkeley Rep. Sykes was last seen on screen as “Seaweed J. Stubbs” in NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” His Broadway credits include: Hamilton: An American Musical (OBC), Memphis (OBC), Newsies (OBC), Motown (OBC), and The Little Mermaid. Additional TV/Film credits include: “Marvin” on “Vinyl,” “Luke Cage,” “Smash,” “30 Rock,” Leave It On The Floor, Woody Allen’s Crisis in Six Scenes, and Detroit directed by Katheryn Bigelow. A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, Ephraim graduated from the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA program with departmental honors and toured with the Ailey II Company for two years.
Quentin Earl Darrington was most recently seen on Broadway as Agwe in the Tony Award winning revival of Once On This Island, for which he earned a Grammy nomination. He made his Broadway debut in the 2010 Tony nominated revival of Ragtime, starring as Coalhouse Walker Jr., and was also seen as Old Deuteronomy in the Broadway revival of Cats. A native of Florida, his extensive career has taken him from the Bay to Broadway and beyond, performing in numerous shows and concerts across 46 US states, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and New Zealand; also in the national tours of Memphis, The Color Purple, The Lion King, and Ragtime. Q has also starred in productions at The Kennedy Center, New York City Center, Papermill Playhouse, The Muny, The Cincinnati Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus, and the Goodspeed Opera House, among others, and made his concert debut with New York’s Broadway by the Year series, Songs of 1927, and his solo cabaret debut with QED, Chapter 1: Verse 1. In addition to his stage career, Q has recently guest starred on “Elementary,” “Madam Secretary,” “The Good Fight,” and recurs on the new CBS drama “The Code.” He holds a MFA from University of Central Florida and a BFA from University of South Florida.
Whitney Bashor. Broadway: The Bridges of Madison County (Marian, OBC; Clarence Derwent Award). Off-Broadway: The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Ordinary Days, The Fantasticks, Himself, and Nora. Regional: The Bridges of Madison County (WTF), Merrily We Roll Along (Wallis Annenberg; Ovation Award Nominee), Fly By Night (Dallas Theatre Center), Light in the Piazza (PTC; Barrymore Award Winner). TV: “Law and Order SVU,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “All My Children.” BFA U of Michigan. Represented by HCKR and Untitled Entertainment. Thank you to my parents and my incredible husband Jared. Baby girl Luna, this is all for you. @bashorw
Gabriel Ruiz. New York credits: Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). Chicago credits: You Got Older, The Rembrandt, The Way West, How Long Will I Cry?, The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Next to Normal, Company, Arcadia (Writers Theatre); The Wolf at the End of the Block, White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista); The Upstairs Concierge (Goodman Theatre); Cry it Out, Mansfield Park (Northlight Theatre); Photograph 51, Agamemnon, Man in the Ring (Court Theatre); Native Gardens (Victory Gardens Theater); Singin’ in the Rain, City of Angels (Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire); Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company); Working (Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place); Richard III, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); and Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theatre Company). Regional credits include: Native Gardens (Cincinnati Playhouse), Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Why Torture Is Wrong… (Forward Theater Company). TV/Film: “Chicago PD,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Justice” (NBC); “APB” (Fox); “Electric Dreams” (Channel 4); and “Boss” (Starz).
Antoine L. Smith is an Emmy Award Winner. Last seen on Broadway in the Tony Nominated Best Revival of a Musical Carousel as Timony (u.s. Billy Bigelow). Other Broadway credits include: the 2016 Grammy and Tony Award-winning Best Revival of a Musical The Color Purple (Grady/u.s.Harpo); Miss Saigon (Shultz/u.s. John); and Memphis (Wailin’ Joe). Broadway Tours include Cinderella (Lord Pinkleton) and Cats. Other notable credits: Oklahoma (Curly); Les Misérables (Javert); Rent (Tom Collins); Big River (Jim); Ragtime (Booker T. Washington). Many Thanks to Irene Cabrera at DDO Artist Agency. @antoinelsmith32
Joey Sorge was last seen on Broadway as “Rudy The Voice” in A Bronx Tale – The Musical. Other Broadway credits include: Nice Work If You Can Get It, How To Succeed in Business…, The Drowsy Chaperone, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the 2001 revival of Follies. Off-Broadway credits include: Vittorio in Carmelina (York Theatre), Dino in Saturday Night (Second Stage), Summer of ’42 (Variety Arts). National: Lord Evelyn in Anything Goes, The Fonz in Happy Days – The Musical, and Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Regional: Trip To Bountiful (Actor’s Ensemble); Boeing, Boeing (Gulfshore); Crazy For You (Sharon); Lend Me A Tenor (Westchester Bway); White Christmas; Singin’ In The Rain; Nice Work If You Can Get It (Ogunquit); Victor, Victoria (TUTS); When You Wish (Phoenix Theatre); Animal Crackers (Williamstown). TV: “The Deuce,” “The Good Fight,” “Younger,” “Elementary,” “Deception,” “Person of Interest,” “The Path.” Film: Conditional, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Providence, and Audrey. @sojoey www.joeysorge.com
Darius Barnes. Broadway: Mean Girls (Damian u/s); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Mr. Beauregard u/s); Memphis (Gator u/s); Kiss Me Kate; Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Off-Broadway: The Black Clown, Lincoln Center; Sweet Charity, The New Group; Cabin in the Sky, Encores!. NY: Radio City Christmas Show, Radio City Music Hall; AIDA, Metropolitan Opera; The Kiss, The Guggenheim. Regional: How To Succeed.., Kennedy Center; The Sting, Papermill Playhouse; Pirates of Penzance, Barrington Stage; My Paris, Long Wharf Theater; La Cage Aux Folles, Goodspeed Opera House; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Guthrie. Concert Dance: New York City Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem. TV: “The Tony Awards,” CBS; “Good Morning America,” ABC; “Today Show,” NBC; “New Year’s Eve w/ John Legend,” NBC; “Smash,” NBC. Music Video: Estelle “Conqueror”. Choreography: MJ (lab) (Asst. Choreographer); Broadway Bounty Hunter, Barrington Stage (Asso. Choreographer); New York Choreographic Institute.
Raymond Baynard. Broadway: Hamilton. National Tours: The Lion King, Hamilton. New Jersey native and graduate of S.U.N.Y. Purchase. Thanking God for my many blessings. Performances are dedicated to my mother, I love and miss you. To the Browns, thank you and may God bless you.
Coral Dolphin, Los Angeles Native, NY based artist, began her acting/dance training at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Broadway credits: Lead dancer “Dream Ballet”, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. Performance credits: Madonna world tour “Rebel Heart”, Janet Jackson “Made For Now”, Beyonce “VMAS”, Ballet Hispanico 2, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence. Choreography credits: Lenny Kravitz, Kali Uchis/Isolation Tour, Miguel/Jimmy Fallon. She’s honored and completely flabbergasted to be apart of the MJ musical. God, Love & Freedom.
John Edwards was last seen in the NYC revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Chita Award Winner and Lortel Nominee). Other credits include: Broadway and 1st Nat’l Tour of Jersey Boys (Barry Belson/others), Nat’l Tour Hairspray (Seaweed J Stubbs), Because of Winn Dixie (Goodspeed Opera House), In The Heights (Kennedy Center), Dreamgirls (Jimmy Early). Member of the 2019 Tony Award-winning and Grammy Award nominated gospel choir Broadway Inspirational Voices, directed by Michael McElroy. IG:@therealjohnedwards
Ayana George, hailing from the Bronx, NY, is elated to realize a lifelong dream as she makes her Broadway debut in MJ. With a career spanning over 25 years, Ayana has been a background vocalist for several major recording artists across genres including John Legend, Mariah Carey, Sting, Celine Dion, Jazmine Sullivan, Chaka Khan, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Alessia Cara, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp, CeCe Winans, and Karen Clark-Sheard, to name a few. Ayana recently stepped into the forefront with the release of her latest single “SHINE”, from her forthcoming EP. Ayana’s music infuses her unique vocal stylings with her undeniable faith. Ayana has always viewed singing as an “escape.” With every opportunity to share her gift, Ayana seeks to provide that same solace for all who hear. Endless gratitude to my daughter, Maya, family, friends, Jason Michael Webb, Chris Wheeldon, and Telsey & Co.
Kali May Grinder. Broadway/NYC: Frozen (ensemble/OBC), Wicked (ensemble), and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Rockette). National Tour: Wicked. Love and gratitude to DZ, LDC, and her ever-supportive family. @grinderkali
Apollo Levine is a native of Abbeville, LA by way of South Bend, IN and is excited and honored to be making his Broadway debut with MJ. Apollo has beeen seen in (film) Bolden, (tv) “Let’s Stay Together “and “Criminal Minds.” His theater credits include originating the title role of The Monkey King in Beijing, China. Regional: Sister Act (Ogunquit Playhouse), Ragtime (NCT), Dreamgirls (NCT), Hair, and Side Show. Proverbs 3:6 @onlyapollolevine
Ryan VanDenBoom is thrilled to be sharing the stage of MJ with some of the most talented and gracious humans he’s ever met. Growing up a huge fan of Michael he is honored to be a part of this show, carrying his legacy. Ryan’s career has spanned both stage and screen. He appeared most recently in the television series “Fosse/Verdon” on FX, and he also can be seen dancing in the Coen Brother’s farce Hail, Caesar! On stage Ryan has performed in the most recent Broadway revival of Annie, Something Rotten! (OBC), Bandstand (OBC), and in the Chicago company of Hamilton. Other stage work has found Ryan performing with the physical comedy troupe Parallel Exit, and in the immersive theatre show Acoustica Electronica. Ryan has been featured as a soloist with multiple symphony orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony. Special thanks to Chris, Lynn, Dontee, Michael, and Martha for your vision.
Lamont Walker II is honored to be making his Broadway Debut with MJ! He is a proud graduate of Point Park University: BFA Musical Theatre Class of 2017. Thank you to The Krasny Office, my mentors, friends, and supportive family who continue to fill me with encouragement. Ase’ and to God. @lamontwalkerii
Naomi C. Walley. Blessed beyond measure to be appearing in MJ and fulfilling a life long dream dancing to his timeless music! Broadway: Chicago (Velma Kelly, Liz). Tours: Chicago (Velma Kelly), The Bodyguard The Musical (Nat’l Tour, alt. Rachel/Nikki Marron), West Side Story (Int’l Tour, alt. Anita). Regional: Josephine The Musical (u/s Josephine, Asolo Rep), Hairspray, Meet Me in St. Louis, Promises Promises, The Drowsy Chaperone (MGR Playhouse). Film/TV: “The Get Down” (Netflix original) and the upcoming film adaptation of In The Heights (Warner Bros Studios, summer 2020). Other credits include numerous web and commercial performances as well as TV and stage appearances with Selena Gomez and Daddy Yankee. Education: B.F.A. in Drama – NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, CAP 21 (‘12). All glory to God for all His wonderful gifts and matchless grace & mercy! For Annette, Bill, Elisabeth, Jonathan and, of course, Granny. Romans 8:28. Follow @naomicwalley
Zelig Williams has been involved with MJ since the early labs. He was most recently seen on Broadway in Hamilton. His touring credits include Hugh Jackman on Tour. Workshops and readings in addition to MJ have included Museum of Dance and the Madonna Tour Dance Lab. Zelig currently studies commercial dance at Pace University.
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