I’ve discovered that Motown and Broadway have a lot in common — a family of wonderfully talented, passionate, hardworking young people, fiercely competitive but also full of love and appreciation for the work, for each other and for the people in the audience.” – Berry Gordy
In 2015, Motown The Musical had the best-selling two-week engagement in Kimmel Center history, and it looks like the 2017 return of the show will repeat that record.
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown The Musical is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s life, 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! Motown The Musical tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry, and the whole Motown family fight against the odds, and sometimes each other, to create the soundtrack of change in a racially divided America.
Based on Berry Gordy’s book To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown, Motown The Musical features a strong cast, many repeating roles from the Broadway production and the 2015’s National tour, including absolute standout performances by the shows leads. Always keeping his finger on the pulse of his life’s story, all performers are individually approved by Berry Gordy himself.
Chester Gregory portrays Gordy with outward conviction and intimate grace. Allison Semmes completely embodies Diana Ross’ character with her powerful voice and Diana’s velvety smooth movements. David Kaverman as Smokey Robinson not only sings with the angel vocals of Smokey, but also exposes the heartfelt relationship he shares with Berry, true brothers to the end.
Personally, Jersey native Jarran Muse’s portrayal of Marvin Gaye was the piece de resistance! Jarran is absolutley believable as Marvin with the looks, talent and the attitude that made Marvin Gaye so very special. He brought the audience to tears when he sang “What’s Going On,” at a particularly poignant moment, and made everyone sing along with his rendition of “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby.”
I can’t overlook little Michael Jackson’s embodiment by Raymond Davis Jr. who also plays young Stevie Wonder, and the young Berry Gordy. This young man is only 12 and was a crowd favorite. He has some mighty big shoes to fill in this show and seems to do it with ease, and those shoes, by the way, have some serious dance moves happening!
Motown The Musical is lifting off the roof of the Academy of the Arts May 30-June 11. Go see this show, guaranteed you’ll be singing all the way home!