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This Play Seeks to “Reclaim the Legacy” of Michael Jackson

"The Night Michael Jackson Died" will return on the ten-year anniversary of the singer's death.

Jackson in 2001. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, Pool)

A press release for The Night Michael Jackson Died says the play, last seen at the Hamilton in 2018, “will celebrate the life of Michael Jackson, after multiple allegations have surfaced to diminish the legacy of the King of Pop.” That’s an admirably economical reference to the fallout from Leaving Neverland, the HBO documentary from earlier this year that aired excruciating accounts of sexual abuse from two men who were close to Jackson when they were children. Since it aired, Drake, the Los Angeles Lakers, and The Simpsons have distanced themselves from the star.

Conversely, Jackson’s estate has sued HBO, and plans for a Jackson jukebox musical next year on Broadway appear to be unaffected. Cirque du Soleil’s Jackson show in Vegas continues as well. Airplay of Jackson’s music has declined, but only slightly.

Local artist, community radio impresario, and activist Kymone Freeman wrote The Night Michael Jackson died, which centers on five people meeting in a Miami nightclub on the day the singer died. The release promises the production “blurs the lines between Black and White, young and old, rich and poor along with right and wrong” and quotes from Ta-Nehisi Coates‘s deft 2018 essay about Jackson, Kanye West, and the unique nature of black fame in the US.

The Night Michael Jackson Died will be performed at 7 PM on Tuesday, June 25, at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue, Southeast. $20. It’s part of the DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival, which runs from June 21-July 7.  

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.