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Tampa’s Straz Center sets 2024-25 Broadway series

Bill DeYoung



Roman Banks is Michael Jackson in "MJ The Musical." Publicity photo.

It was back in 2019 that St. Petersburg’s Ephraim Sykes got the nod to play Michael Jackson in the new Broadway production MJ The Musical.

Sykes, a singing, dancing graduate of the Pinellas County Center of the Arts, had been nominated for a Tony Award for his dynamic portrayal of David Ruffin in Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.

It was in summer of 2021 that Sykes announced he had left the MJ production, which was to start previews in December.

MJ The Musical garnered mixed reviews, and nevertheless took home four Tonys.

Sykes went on to star in Room, a Broadway musical based on the 2015 film of the same name. His current project is a revival of Bye Bye Birdie at the Kennedy Center.

There are fewer than six degrees of separation between Ephraim Sykes and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts’ just-announced 2024-0215 Broadway series. The Tampa venue brings professional Broadway tours in to play its biggest room, Carol Morsani Hall.

MJ The Musical is part of the series, playing the Straz Center Feb. 25-March 2, 2025, with Roman Banks as Michael Jackson. There are 26 Jackson songs in the show.

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations makes its second appearance as a Straz tour stop Jan. 3-5. Ephraim Sykes is no longer in this show, either.

There are other popular Broadway shows on the upcoming schedule, although none of them have anything much to do with Ephraim Sykes:

Nov. 12-17, 2024: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

Dec. 10-15, 2024: Some Like it Hot. Winner of four Tonys and the Grammy For Best Musical Theater Album. Based on the 1959 film classic.

Jan. 14-19, 2025: The Cher Show. Thirty-five Cher songs and a lot of Bob Mackie gowns.

Jan. 28-Feb. 2: Mamma Mia! A returning Straz favorite. The rollicking “who’s my daddy?” story, set to songs by ABBA, became a popular movie in 2008.

Feb. 11-16, 2025: A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical. Diamond himself was a producer of this biographical musical.

April 2-20, 2025: Disney’s The Lion King. Director Julie Taymor’s massive hit live-action re-imagining of the cartoon fable, winner of six Tonys including Best Musical.

April 29-May 4, 2025: Mystic Pizza. Musical based on the 1988 Julia Roberts movie, a jukebox job packed with hits from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

June 3-8, 2025: Shucked. Musical about a small town that figuratively runs on corn. Non-binary Alex Newell won the 2023 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Subscriptions will go on sale April 2 (Straz Center website). Individual show tickets will be made available at a later date.

Meanwhile, the current Broadway season is far from over. Girl From the North Country, written by Conor McPherson and featuring the songs of Bob Dylan, visits March 27-31.

Next is a musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire, April 2-7.

The Book of Mormon returneth April 16 through 21.

April 30-May 5 means a re-imagining of the Peter Pan musical.

Clue, a comic mystery based on both the board game and the 1985 film, is onstage May 28 through June 2.

Jean Valjean, Fantine, Inspector Javert and the rest of Victor Hugo’s classic characters, as re-imagined by producer Cameron Mackintosh, will stalk the Morsini stage once more as Les Miserables comes to town June 11-16.

More on the current Straz Center Broadway season.








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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Danny E White

    March 16, 2024at5:20 pm

    Ephram Sykes or Ephraim Sykes?

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