Motown – The Musical

Motown – The Musical Photos: Tristram Kenton

The first time we went to see Motown The Musical was in London celebrating my father’s retirement. Despite my horrific hangover, (which actually got better with the wonderful sounds of the Motown soundtrack), we loved this show.

The London production of “Motown the Musical” opened on 11 February 2016 and is still playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre until April 2019. We were super excited to hear that Motown was going on it’s first ever UK and Ireland Tour, opening at The Alexandra in our home city where it remains until Saturday 3 November.

Motown received its world premiere in April 2013 in New York where it recouped its $18 million investment by the end of 2014. It has both music and lyrics from the Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy. With music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Ethan Popp, co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Crook, you can expect to hear 50 Motown hits performed with precision from this wonderful orchestra. Songs such as Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, War and so many other legendary songs are featured.

The show tells of Motown founder and music mogul Berry Gordy, who created the legendary record label. The musical delves into the history of Motown, Berry’s relationships and the discovery of so many influential Motown artists.

Charles Randolph-Wright has directed a fantastic touring production that is fresh, vibrant and packed full of energy. With sleek, slick choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams and eye-catching dazzling costumes by Emilio Sosa, this touring production does not disappoint. In fact, I would say that I enjoyed this production even more than the West End production.

What makes this musical so popular is the charismatic characters and legendary artists that come to life on stage.

Berry Gordy was played by the fabulous Edward Baruwa, who we have recently seen in the comedic role of Ram’s dad in the production of Heathers in the West End. Edward was outstanding as Berry, providing a mature, passionate performance with exceptional vocals. The chemistry between Edward and Karis Anderson, Diana Ross, filled the stage and their duet gave me goosebumps.

Karis gave an elegant, strong and confident performance as Diana Ross. I particularly enjoyed her performance of Reach out and touch where she interacted with the audience to create a special moment in the middle of Birmingham.

Nathan Lewis gave a gentle, personable charming performance as Smokey Robinson and Shak Gabbidon-Williams gave a delightful performance as Marvin Gaye, with superb vocals.

This touring production also attempted to tackle the issues that still remain with jukebox musicals and audiences. It is well known that in London there are posters asking audiences to please not sing along and to leave it to the professionals at the Motown performance. I admired the little touches of this touring production, where in certain songs the audience were encouraged to sing along with the cast which helped to tackle the issue and encourage any rogue singers to only sing out when prompted.

This fresh, new touring production also has exceptional Scenic Design, David Korins and Projection Design, Daniel Brodie. I loved the set for this production which felt modern and sleek, yet still maintained the nostalgia of the era. The video montages and set design of this production were the best I have seen in a touring production for a long time.

This is a talented compelling cast and ensemble that perform with an infectious energy that should be captured and sold on. If you want to be entertained then look no further than Motown. If you go to see this touring production of Motown, which you should, you are guaranteed to have an amazing night. This musical is the place to be and oh how lucky that you can catch it at a theatre near you.

Don’t miss out people of Brum and beyond!

DT

Theatretastic 5/5:

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We say:  “This is a world class production right on your doorstep – do not miss out on this vibrant, fresh touring production of Motown – The Musical!”