First, let me say that I LOVE live performance. It really doesn’t make too much of a difference to me what it is. Music, Plays, you name it and I am down to go watch it. That being said, I have a special place in my heart for musicals. Maybe it is because I was such a performance arts nerd in high school and I actually did perform in the musicals. Either way, I have seen shows in Vegas, on the West End in London and now that I am in the OC, I have seen a few plays at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. I really want to get out to Broadway and see as many shows as I can! Anywho, this post is about Motown: The Musical. What can I say? It was AMAZING! I loved it. That’s not saying much though, I pretty much love any live performance that I have the privilege of seeing. It has to be really, really, bad for me to not like it.
Motown is the story of the eponymous record label from the perspective of its founder, Berry Gordy. First, let me say the orchestra was amazing. They started the show with a bang! The Temptations in battle of the bands rehearsal with the Four Tops for the Motown 25th anniversary show. We then see Gordy’s mother and Suzanne de Passe trying to convince him to attend the show but he refuses because he feels that all of his artists left him behind and the tribute is not genuine.
This leads us to a history of Gordy, Motown and a revisitation of many of the hits, stars and experiences of Motown in its prime. We see performances from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Contours, The Supremes and many more. The performances were so good and stayed true to the originals. In this production there were so many standouts some of which were, Berry Gordy played by Julius Thomas III, Diana Ross played by Alison Semmes, and Marvin Gaye played by Jarran Muse were so good. I also need to give a mention to Patrice Covington, who gave an excellent rendition of Dancing in the Street as Martha Reeves. I just found out that Thomas had his last performance two nights ago so I am glad that I was able to see him. I wonder what he’ll be up to next because he is very talented.
All in all, the story was good and although we’ve seen the Motown story many times in other projects, to include The Temptations, The Jacksons: An American Dream and the not so thinly veiled Dreamgirls, this is the first that I’ve seen one from he perspective of the man who started it all. The storyline isn’t super complex as they spend a lot of the time cramming in as much of the great music as they can, but if you are a fan of Motown, it will feel as if you are really seeing these stars on stage.
If the tour is coming to a city near you, I would most definitely recommend seeing it!