Ain’t Too Proud Showstopper Ephraim Sykes to Play Michael Jackson on Broadway

Photo: Charles Sykes (AP)

So you wanna be startin’ somethin’? You got to to be starting something!

Broadway has crowned its King of Pop.

Ephraim Sykes will portray Michael Jackson in the upcoming MJ The Musical, which will premiere on the Great White Way next summer.

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“My ACTUAL wildest dream is coming true,” Sykes wrote on Instagram about the announcement. “All I can say is thank you Lord.”

“I’ll do my best to honor the man who made me wanna sing and dance in the first place,” he added. “Love you MJ, love y’all!”

Previously titled after one of the music icon’s biggest solo hits, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, the eagerly anticipated show is now simply titled MJ The Musical and will start preview performances in New York City’s Neil Simon Theatre on July 6, 2020.

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Featuring a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, alongside a host of Jackson’s legendary songs, the show will be helmed by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.

In his own right, Sykes is a legend in the making — at 34.

The St. Petersburg, Fla., native is currently captivating audiences as David Ruffin in the hit Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations.

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It’s a scene-stealing, career-defining roleone that continues to follow Leon Robinson decades after he portrayed the troubled troubadour in the beloved television miniseries of the legendary Motown Records group. The dynamic role of Ruffin is to Ain’t Too Proud what Effie Melody White was to Dreamgirls.

For his acclaimed performance Sykes—who leaves everything on the stage— nabbed a Tony Award nomination alongside a Chita Rivera Award, the Helen Hayes Award, the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, Theater Bay Area Award, and The Actors’ Equity Clarence Derwent Award.

A world-class hoofer, the former Ailey II company member has previously appeared on Broadway in productions of Hamilton, Motown The Musical, Disney’s Newsies, Memphis and The Little Mermaid, where he made his debut.

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The Fordham University alum also appeared in Robert Longbottom’s 2009 revival of Dreamgirls, which premiered at The Apollo Theater and went on to tour nationally.

On television, Sykes starred as Seaweed J. Stubbs in Kenny Leon’s multiple Emmy Award-winning production of Hairspray Live, and the Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese’s short-lived record industry drama series Vinyl in 2016.

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!