Directed by Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland focuses on testimony by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who both claim that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. Jackson denied any wrongdoing until his death in 2009.
- Read more: “It’s one-sided and biased” – Taj Jackson attempts to defend his uncle, Michael Jackson, against the Leaving Neverland fallout
While the documentary casts a shadow on any upcoming Michael Jackson projects, according to producers of new musical, Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough, the Broadway show will go on regardless of the recent controversy.
“We’re not judge and jury,” director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon told The New York Times. “In our process, we’re facing [the controversy] pretty much head on, but we’re also studying the many facets of Michael Jackson.”
In the days before Leaving Neverland aired on HBO back in March, the musical’s producers — the Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage — postponed a scheduled developmental session, citing a labour issue. They also cancelled a planned pre-Broadway production in Chicago.
Responding to whether or not they considered halting production on Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough following Leaving Neverland, Wheeldon said: “I don’t think we did. This is obviously challenging – it makes this not without its complications, for sure – but part of what we do as artists is we respond to complexity.”
Also interviewed was the show’s book writer Lynn Nottage, who, in an interview with The Daily Mail, suggested that she found the two men who detailed abuse allegations against Jackson in a new documentary to be truthful.
“What I was saying, and what I was getting at, is that the men came across as very believable,” Nottage said, elaborating on her original comment. Continuing, she added: “But here’s the caveat: Were they ultimately telling the truth? I cannot 100 percent say so, because I’m not judge and jury, and it’s not my place to do that.
“We’re not journalists. Folks have to remember we’re theatre artists that are examining the life of this very complicated artist. We can ask certain questions, but our job is not to answer those questions. My job is to reflect and interrogate and present.”
Fans of Jackson called for Nottage to be fired from the musical following her original comments about Robson and Safechuck. Responding, the two-time Pulitzer winner said: “I would ask that the fans be respectful to the process, and trust us as artists.
“And I do in some ways feel up to the challenge of telling this story, as scary as it is, because of the great divide that exists. But, in this day and age, I feel like if we as artists run away from complexity, then who are we?”
Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough is due to arrive on Broadway next summer.
Meanwhile, a former bodyguard of Michael Jackson has defended the late singer despite allegations in the Leaving Neverland documentary.
Matt Fiddes claims that key facts were left out of the film which details accounts of two subjects who claim they were sexually abused by the singer. He said “it is now time to defend his friend” in an Instagram post.