Motown the Musical

Charles Randolph-Wright + Motown the Musical
Thursday, August 22 nd, 2019 at 00:08 am Dr. Joy Browne
Director (s):
Charles Randolph-Wright
Brandon Victor Dixon, Valisia LeKae, Charl Brown, Bryand Terrel Clark, Raymond Luke Jr. and Jibreel Mawry
Historical, Broadway

Motown The Musical is the much anticipated jukebox musical about Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, and Motown; which was the pre-eminent record company for hits for 25 years, hailing out of Detroit, and the first recording company to do cross overs in terms of taking black artists and making them mainstream.  These artists included Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, etc. The good news about this are the songs, and there’s 58 of them including Signed Sealed Delivered, Stop in the Name of Love, War, What’s Going On, and I could go on and on all the way to 58! The choreography is fantastic, the costumes are wonderful, and it’s just really fun, almost like being at a concert. The first act is a little slow and the question is how much do you really care about Barry Gordy, and the actor who plays him, Brandon Victor Dixon, is really wonderful with a great voice and stage presence, Valisia LeKae plays Diana Ross and she’s wonderful, and Charl Brown plays Smokey Robinson, probably somewhat less successfully. The fun of this is really the second act. Do we care how it all got started? Meh, we’ve probably seen a shorter version of it. The concept of the play is that there’s a 25 year reunion and Berry is not amused because all these dudes have at some point left him to go work for other record companies and get paid a lot more money, so he is not amused with his creations at all and felt like they deserted him. So we get to see how it all started and whom he discovered, including the Jackson 5, and the sense that he had in hanging in there and the financial problems he faced. It’s also kind of a microcosm of racism in America as it takes places in 1983 but then goes back to 1938 and deals with his family and when Joe Louis won the boxing championship, so it covers a huge amount of American history and especially American racial history. Are there some minor criticisms: yes, but the songs are terrific and discovering the groups as you go along is really fun, so four stars.

Joy Meter