Motown the Musical - Review Jukebox musicals — shows that plunder old pop catalogues to make the music of their youth come alive for theatregoers who can now afford the price of theatre tickets to indulge such nostalgia — have become a West End and Broadway epidemic. I recently adored Close to You, a shameless concert promotion but also reinvention of the songs of Burt Bacharach, and Beautiful and Jersey Boys are both smart Broadway biographies of the legends that are Carole... Read more
Inspired by Berry Gordy’s autobiography “To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown”, Motown the Musical charts the ups and downs of the celebrated record producer’s personal and professional relationships with the legendary Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and many more; artists renowned for their stunning contribution to soul music.
Motown the Musical is performed by an eighteen-piece orchestra and comprised of over 50 Motown tracks, including “Dancing in the Street”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “My Girl”. The show was nominated for four Tony Awards while on Broadway and, since opening in 2016 in the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre, has continued to successfully bring to life one of the most influential eras in music history.
Motown the Musical provides insight into how Berry Gordy, who started with just $800 in the bank, went from being a featherweight boxer to a heavyweight music mogul. The musical begins in 1983 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium where some of the world's biggest recording stars are gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Motown Records. Gordy refuses to join the reunion, still hurt that his protégés eventually abandoned him for greener pastures – in Diana Ross’s case, a $20 million offer from RCA records.
Told through flashbacks, Gordy's fame grows swiftly during the 1960s and his record label draws in names like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Soon, with America socially charged and racially divided, Gordy realises Motown’s true calling: to unite the country through music. Gordy went on to produce 110 top 10 hits from 1961 to 1971 as well as releasing three of Martin Luther King’s speeches.
This is Broadway actor Cedric Neal’s West End debut as Berry Gordy. Joining him are Lucy St Louis as Diana Ross, Obioma Ugoala as Smokey Robinson and Sifiso Mazibuko as Marvin Gaye. They are supported by a cast of 30 who bring Gordy’s story to life with sass, style and soul. The production is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright with choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams.
Motown The Musical is taking bookings until 5th January 2019, when the show will celebrate its third year in London and Motown will celebrate sixty years since the record company was founded.
Book your Motown the Musical tickets, playing at The Shaftesbury Theatre today.
Motown the Musical tells the story of Motown founder Berry Gordy who is inspired to become a music mogul after he watches an iconic boxing match and turns his attentions to being the best version of himself possible. As he turns his back on boxing, he borrows $800 from his family to set up Hitsville USA - a Detroit town house that would go on to discover original songwriting and performing talent. Acts such as The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and The Temptations would enter unknowns and leave as stars, with personalities such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye furthering the Motown Records profile.
As Gordy's success builds and he breeds competition amongst his acts, he struggles to keep control of his business and his personal life as he falls in love with Diana Ross. Through the power of music, Motown the Musical tells this unknown story that links together some of the most iconic performers music has ever seen, set against a time that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King and JFK as well as the War in Vietnam and race riots. Discover the true story behind the music and acts you thought you knew, whilst remembering the soundtrack that defined a generation.