Frost remembers that day as well, mostly because it turned out badly. The previous day, he had cut short a practice session with Thompson, citing an allergic reaction to dust in the studio; he took a Benadryl, a Zyrtec and a douche, and fell asleep. When he arrived for the audition, he let instinct take over.
“I closed my eyes, got a little more invested, and when the music started, I did the thing,” he said. “My body felt like it already did. That feeling – it’s deeper than the music, it’s deeper than the game itself, it’s deeper than the show. It’s a type of energy and a type of magic that invades you.
Wheeldon viewed Frost as a boon but also as a gamble. “There were so many raw gifts — more gifts than I have perhaps ever seen in a human being on a first audition,” Wheeldon said. But, also, “with that came all our fears: what if he doesn’t work? What if he can’t work?
The production offered the role to Frost. He accepted.
“It’s one of those things where it feels like the stars kinda align,” Frost said, “and you get that call and it’s in the palm of your hands to pick up and embrace or let it go, and I decided to take it and kiss it.
“MJ”, of course, is not just any musical jukebox. He is one of the greatest pop artists in American history, but whose legacy has been tarnished by allegations that he sexually abused children. The show, with a book by Lynn Nottage, the two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright, is set in 1992, before the allegations were made public, and does not address this issue, which has drawn criticism from of the main theater examiners. But so far, the show’s box office has been healthy — in recent weeks, “MJ” has been among Broadway’s highest-grossing productions. It has won 10 Tony nominations, including one for Best Musical, and its producers, including Michael Jackson Estate, plan to add a North American tour next year.
Frost, during a pair of conversations on the show, was patient with questions about the allegations, but also chose his words carefully — taking a deep breath before responding, often pausing between thoughts — and made it clear that he would not be baited or harassed by expressing a position on whether Jackson was an abuser.
“I believe everyone is entitled to their truth and what they believe,” he said. “I do not judge.”