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Elijah Rhea Johnson on Becoming Michael Jackson on Broadway

Theatre Mania

When you’re the first replacement for a Tony Award-winning actor, it’s natural that you might feel a little intimidated. But Elijah Rhea Johnson has been preparing for this moment since he was a child, dancing in his kitchen. Johnson assumed the leading role of Michael in Broadway’s MJ at the Neil Simon Theatre in a full circle moment: not only was he raised on Michael Jackson’s music, but he played a different role in earlier, pre-Broadway workshops of the show. It’s a lot of work, he notes, but he’s awfully happy to be there, and enjoying every single moment.

How’s it going over at the Neil Simon Theatre? Are you having fun?
I love it. I love it. I mean, I’m tired all the time, but it’s one of the best jobs ever. I get to not only be a lead on Broadway — that hits me every once in a while — and then, on top of that, it’s Michael.

You were part of the early workshops of the show. Tell me about that.
Yeah, I was part of the workshops in 2018 and 2019 being Middle Michael. Michael’s the reason why I started performing. Being able to just be a part of the show at that point was insane, and now, being able to come back as Michael proper is super fun for me...READ MORE