Frost also remembers that day because he was in bad shape. He had cut short a practice session with Thompson the day before, citing an allergic reaction to dust at the studio; took a Benadryl, a Zyrtec and a shower and fell asleep. When it came to auditioning, she let instinct take control.
“I closed my eyes, got a little bit more self-conscious, and did that thing when the music started,” he said. “My body felt like it had done it before. This feeling – this is deeper than the music, this is deeper than the acting, this is deeper than the show. It’s a kind of energy and a kind of magic coming on you.”
Wheeldon saw Frost as a blessing but also a gamble. “There were so many raw gifts—more gifts than I’ve ever seen in a human at the first audition,” Wheeldon said. But at the same time, “all our fears came with it: What if he didn’t get the job? What if he can’t get a job?”
The production offered Frost the role. He accepted.
“It’s one of those things that feels like the stars align a little bit,” Frost said, “and you take that call and it’s in the palm of your hand to take it and embrace it or let it go, and I’ve decided to take it and embrace it.”
“MJ” is not just any jukebox musical, of course. It’s about one of the greatest pop artists in American history, but whose legacy is tarnished by alleged child sexual abuse. Featuring a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, the show takes place in 1992, before the allegations were made public. does not address this issueled to criticism by leader theatre reviewers. But so far, the show’s box office has been healthy – in recent weeks, “MJ” has been among the top-grossing productions on Broadway. It received 10 Tony nominations, one for best musical, and its producers, including Michael Jackson Estate, are planning to add a North American tour next year.
During a couple conversations about the program, Frost was patient with questions about the allegations, but at the same time chose his words carefully—taking a deep breath before answering, pausing frequently between thoughts—and making it clear that he wouldn’t be trapped or offended. Expressing a position on whether or not Jackson was an abuser.
“I believe everyone has the right to their own truth and what they believe,” he said. “I’m not judging.”