TV and Stage Actor from Cedar Rapids Stars in MJ the Musical’s Premiere at the Des Moines Civic Center

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Josh Dawson has 150 years of family history in Iowa. Born in Cedar Rapids, Dawson grew up performing. From singing at his father’s church on Sundays, to starring in his first play at 6 years old, Dawson never shied away from the spotlight. “I grew up singing, dancing, and acting at my dad’s church. He’d bring in people to do these workshops and master classes for the kids and I gained a passion for it,” recalls Dawson. Serious about his future as an entertainer, Dawson looked at colleges with a focus on performing arts. He was accepted to the musical theater program at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music where he mastered his acting and vocal skills.

After college he took his talent on the road, where he performed in several off-Broadway plays and went on tour with well-known musicals before making his Broadway debut in Beautiful in 2018. But being on stage wasn’t Dawson’s only ambition. “I was on a television show called The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel where I got to play Harry Belafonte. As long as I can remember, my grandmother called me that. I admire his activism and how much he did for Black artists in the 50’s and the Civil Rights Movement.” Getting to portray one of his idols is one of his favorite things about being an actor. He is doing it again in his role as Quincy Jones in MJ the Musical playing at the Des Moines Civic Center April 30th – May 5th.  The multi–Tony Award-winning musical takes the audience on a ride through the ups and downs during the making of Micheal Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour. The musical is making its debut in Iowa, but it’s not Dawson’s first time performing in his home state. “I toured Iowa with the musical Beautiful in 2016, or 2017 and it’s always a good time. I love the pace. It’s so peaceful and I like getting back. There’s something about the majesty of cornfields and the plains. It really strips you down and humbles you because that’s how I grew up.” 

Before touring with MJ the Musical, Dawson lived between New York and Los Angeles and yearned for something different. He was writing music and producing, much like his title character in the musical, Quincy Jones who wrote and produced hits for legends like Duke Ellington and Ray Charles. He hopes to slow down a bit and get back to writing after the tour, perhaps in London. “I’ve been on TV and sang on an Emmy nominated song. I’ve learned so much that this little Iowa boy is just like, whatever happens now is in the universe’s hands.”

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In the meantime, Dawson is focused on making this performance one to remember for all the Iowans who come out to support him and learn more about the legendary star known as one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. Dawson promises that “this is an experience unlike any other theatrical event. No matter how you feel about Michael Jackson, coming to the show, you will be transformed.” 

To learn more about the production, or to purchase tickets, go to www.desmoinesperformingarts.org

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