I saw Motown: the Musical on opening night and had expectations from when the show opened on Broadway. I must admit the appeal was the idea of a Broadway show telling the story of Motown Records with African Americans behind the scenes and on the stage. So I can’t lie the opening night with Barry Gordy & Smokey Robinson coming out to briefly talk was like butter on my toast!
My expectations were very high and I found that everything was colored by the current political climate. So my review is going to focus on my feeling watching the musical. The cast sound great and it was very excited that some of the Broadway original cast is on the tour. The voices of the show have a rich soulful timbre that you will not normally hear in a Broadway musical. The production team (obviously) worked very hard to find stage actors who could bring the voice spirit of the iconic talent Barry Gordy and Smokey Robinson found and nurtured.
I just had a hard time connecting during the first half of the show as he fought to build his empire that eventually succumbed to big business. I knew a little about the drama behind the music because my grandparents and parents listened to a LOT of Motown and we have family in Detroit. But for me I was waiting for the music and to see if it would bring back memories of watching tv with my grandparents.
I did like the spare stage that really focused on the cast, the costumes and they used it effectively to give movement and passage of time. Wait scratch that the stage was PERFECT when they showed the Motown review and (PLEASE) with the images of what it was like to tour during that time in places where the KKK was active and advertised on city/state signs.
I think that the true standouts that excited me were little Michael Jackson (CJ Wright) and Jarran Muse (Marvin Gaye) who were just electric. Everyone screamed when little Michael Jackson was dancing and singing I suppose because it took all of us back in time. While Marvin Gaye segments gave background to his protest songs.
But this is the Barry Gordy story told from his viewpoint and using the Motown sound to show the trials, pain and sacrifice to create one of the premier black owned businesses.
I recommend seeing Motown the Musical and allow yourself to be immersed not just in the sound but the time when it was classified as ‘black music’, segregation and the right to protest for equality. We have come so far but can’t forget out past as we keep moving toward the future of our dreams.
Motown the Musical will be at the Pantages until February 12th please buy a ticket and see this beautifully flawed musical about a man, his dream and the music that is still loved the world over.
Rounding out the company are Michelle Alves, Malcolm Armwood, Erick Buckley, Latrisa Harper, Judith Franklin, Jeremy Gaston, Alyssa V. Gomez, Garfield Hammonds, Rod Harrelson, Jared Howelton, Louis James Jackson, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Ramone Owens, Devin L. Price, Alana Randall, Tavia Rivee, Matthew Sims Jr., Kimberly Ann Steele, Doug Storm, Daniel Robert Sullivan, Gabriella Whiting, Galen J. Williams & Ricardo A. Zayas.
The show was recently nominated for eleven 2016 NAACP Theatre Awards, garnering four of the top awards at the 26th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards ceremony held in Beverly Hills on Monday, November 21, 2016. The first national tour of MOTOWN THE MUSICAL won for Best Playwright (Motown Founder Berry Gordy), Best Choreography (Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adam), Best Costumes (ESosa), and Best Sound (Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook).
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more.
Featuring more than 40 classic hits such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” MOTOWN THE MUSICAL’s arrangements and orchestrations are by Grammy and Tony Award® nominee Ethan Popp (Rock of Ages), who also serves as music supervisor in reproducing the classic “Sound of Young America,” with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award® nominee Bryan Crook (“Smash”) and dance arrangements by Zane Mark (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL features staging by Schele Williams, choreography by Patricia Wilcox (A Night with Janis Joplin) and Warren Adams (Toy Story), scenic design by David Korins (Bring It On: The Musical, Annie), costume design by Tony Award® nominee ESosa (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, “Project Runway”), lighting design by Tony Award® winner Natasha Katz (Once, Sister Act), sound design by Tony Award® nominee Peter Hylenski (Rock of Ages, The Scottsboro Boys), projection design by Daniel Brodie (Aladdin), hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe (Memphis) and casting by Wojcik | Seay Casting.
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is produced by Tony Award® winning producer Kevin McCollum (Rent, In the Heights, Avenue Q), Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Entertainment Doug Morris and Motown founder Berry Gordy, and in association with Work Light Productions.
The performance schedule for MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm.
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is recommended for ages 10 and up. (Children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre. All patrons must have a ticket, regardless of age.)
Individual tickets for MOTOWN THE MUSICAL start at $35. Prices are subject to change without notice.
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