Johnson succeeded Tony winner Myles Frost in the title role of the hit musical April 4 at the Neil Simon Theatre.
Detroit native Elijah Rhea Johnson stepped into the leading role of Michael Jackson in MJ the Musical April 4 at the Neil Simon Theatre, marking his Broadway debut.
Johnson, who helped develop the role of Middle Michael throughout the workshop process of MJ, succeeded Myles Frost, who played his final performance April 2. Frost made history last year, becoming the youngest individual actor to win a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical.
Director Christopher Wheeldon said in an earlier statement, "Those of us who worked with Elijah during the developmental workshops knew, when his schedule didn't allow him to join the original Broadway cast, we hadn't seen the last of him or his remarkable talent. Though we might have initially seen him as 'Middle Michael' it is so clear to me now that adult Michael is who he was born to play. Myles is leaving behind some pretty big loafers to fill, and Elijah is more than ready to wear them."
The new musical began previews December 6, 2021, prior to an official opening February 1, 2022.
The musical features a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and a score made up of some of the most popular songs in recording history. Tony Award winner Wheeldon directs and choreographs.
MJ also has sets by Derek McLane, lighting by Natasha Katz, costumes by Paul Tazewell, sound design by Gareth Owen, projection design by Peter Nigrini, hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe, music direction by Jason Michael Webb, musical supervision by David Holcenberg, and orchestrations by Holcenberg and Webb. Casting is by Rachel Hoffman of The Telsey Office.
The show took home four Tony Awards in total, including Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design in a Musical, and Best Sound Design in a Musical.