Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross
I am amazed it has taken this long, but Motown is coming to Broadway! And I hope and pray the show is a runaway success, so we’ll get a speedy transfer to the West End. My love affair with the Motown Sound started with Michael Jackson, which I suspect is the case with many of my generation. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, The Supremes and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles all are bathed in the soft afternoon sunlight of my teenage weekends, most of which I spent in the back room of a used record shop amongst rickety shelves and worn out albums. Black vinyl and Motown were like a drug to me, I was constantly looking for the sweet surprise of ‘Oh, this is new, I don’t have this one yet!’ Before the instant gratification of itunes there was the chase, the anticipation and the wild blue yonder of discovery.
Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson
Berry Gordy Jr, the founder of Motown and the driving engine behind its monumental success, has written the book for the musical himself. The show concentrates on the early days of Hitsville U.S.A and Berry Gordy’s love affair with Diana Ross. Tony Award nominated (for Colour Purple) Brandon Victor Dixon takes in the role of Barry Gordy Jr and Broadway veteran Valisia LeKae (Book of Mormon, Ragtime) fills the very big stilettos of Diana Ross. This will be her first Broadway lead and no bigger entrance to the limelight than the legendary Miss Ross. Newcomer Jibreel Mawry and Raymond Luke Jr share the roles of young Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Berry Gordy, the multi-talented (actor, singer, songwriter) Bryan Terrell Clark and the very handsome Charl Brown round-up the cast as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson.
Ryan Shaw as Stevie Wonder
If I lived in New York City, you better believe I would have tickets in my pocket already, but it seems I have to wait for the West End transfer. If anyone of you out there are actually going to see the NYC show, please let me know what you thought. The show started previews yesterday and the opening night will be April 14th. Below is a clip of the show rehearsals and the cast and crew interviews show how excited and passionate the entire company is about this show. The way I see it is, Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing, but half a love is better than none at all, and I am convinced this show would keep me dancing on the aisles. Come to London soon, Motown!
Image sources: Motownthemusical.com