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Seventeen years before Myles Frost accepted a history-making Tony for his starring role in Broadway’s “MJ: The Musical,” he was a cute kid killing it to a King of Pop tune.
“My first memory of dancing to Michael was on the Spirit of Washington – I think I was about 5,” Frost said, remembering he was provoked to “Jam,” on an empty dance floor during a boat party riding along the Potomac River.
“The next thing you know I look up [and] everybody is circled around me, throwing money on the ground and all of that type of stuff and I was living my best life,” said Frost, 22, who earlier this month became the youngest person to win a Tony for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.
Even as a kid growing up in Maryland, Frost knew he wanted to be a star.
‘I always wanted to think of ways where I could make Myles Frost be the biggest thing,” said the actor, who made his Broadway debut last December, when “MJ: The Musical” opened for previews.
Beyond the boat or Broadway, Jackson has been a part of Frost’s journey to stardom. A talented pianist, singer and dancer from childhood, Frost is no novice to performing, but some pivotal Jackson moments were fostered at home.
“My mom would always play Michael Jackson and we would always dance to [his music] in the kitchen, just having a little mother and son moment,” said Frost, who was raised by his single mother.
As a high schooler at Thomas Wootton in Rockville, he sang and danced to Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” a recorded performance that would end up on YouTube and later garner the attention of a producer from “MJ: The Musical.”
Frost was a music technology student at Bowie State University when he auditioned for the show, but he moonwalked his way into the hearts of the Broadway show’s creative team, with a script by Lynn Nottage and directed by Christopher Wheeldon.
Though he had very little formal theatrical training, learning about the pop icon’s work ethic from Jackson’s longtime choreographers Rich + Tone Talauega prepared Frost for his Broadway debut.
“I went from having a work ethic that kind of got me by from my talents alone, to now you’ve got to put in the work, because Michael had the talent, but Michael also put in endless hours,” he explained.
Since working on “MJ: The Musical,” Frost is seeing more of Jackson’s influence in his life and discipline.
“I don’t ever half do a performance — there’s no such thing as that, especially when you’re dealing with Michael Jackson, who put his heart into every performance,” he said.
With such dedication, sometimes Frost can’t shake his character, even after he removes the curly wig and white top hat.
“There’s just like a feeling that kind of takes over at times. I start thinking about [certain things] in a way that Michael would think about it. It’s not necessarily in my actions or not even in my voice — well sometimes in my voice,” Frost said laughing, before adding that his sister has caught him maintaining his “Michael voice,” long after he takes a bow.
He even added some MJ flare to his Tony acceptance speech by invoking the song, “Blame it on the Boogie,” by The Jacksons, and donning a bedazzled jacket inspired by the singer, who died in June 2009.
“Tony was never the goal,” Frost said, and he still looks forward to the daily grind of bringing Jackson to life on stage.
“The main goal was to touch the hearts of the people that come to see the show,” he said. “There’s always going to be people in the audience that need healing...or need an escape from whatever they’re going through in their lives and just have a little fun and sing and dance.”
Though “excited and humbled,” Frost said he actually feels some unease with his historic achievement as Broadway’s “King of Pop.”
“I’m the least qualified on paper and to just come into this — for me it’s a New World on Broadway — on the first try kind of feels like beginner’s luck. But I’m slowly reminding myself, I really did work hard for this,” he said.
Frost plans on using his now award-winning platform to inspire others to conquer their goals.
“When I got this role, I didn’t have a fourth of the talent that I have now, or the ability or capabilities that I have now, but I knew that I could get there,” Frost said. “Starting is always the hardest part, but you’ve got to know that you can get there.”