Thursday, August 20, 2015

Diana, Michael, Marvin...MOTOWN!

Seeing MOTOWN the Musical was so incredibly exciting! Not because I knew the story, but because I grew up with so many of the stars. That I learned so much about the history and connections within the Motown family was a total bonus...but seeing the music performed live and onstage, at the Fox Theatre, was the BEST!

MOTOWN the Musical | The Supremes | Photo: Joan Marcus
MOTOWN the Musical | The Supremes | Photo: Joan Marcus

This show starts with the 1983 Motown 25: Today, Yesterday, Forever tribute, then flashes back to the founding of Motown and finishes in a grand finale back in 1983. Wonderful, wonderful story!

Of all the stars signed by Berry Gordy (performed by Josh Tower), the founder of the Motown record label, I'm a fan of The Supremes and Diana Ross (brilliantly portrayed by Allison Semmes) the most. I didn't know about the relationship she and Berry had, nor the background of Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany, both of which are fantastic! 

By the way, if you're visiting Atlanta and see MOTOWN the Musical, make it a double-feature and also see Bruce Monro: Light in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. One of the six installations in the exhibition, Three Degrees, was inspired by The Supremes! Check out my post about Atlanta Ballet's Wabi Sabi performance at the Garden this summer, which includes a photo of Three Degrees (and a description about how it got its name). 

MOTOWN the Musical | The Jackson 5 | Photo: Joan Marcus
MOTOWN the Musical | The Jackson 5 | Photo: Joan Marcus

I had no idea that Berry Gordy signed The Jackson 5, although I remember their early music quite well! And of course, like billions of others in the world, I followed Michael Jackson's career throughout his life. 

What I didn't know, and was awesome to experience in MOTOWN the Musical, was that Diana Ross made the very first introduction of The Jackson 5 after they were signed by Motown! 

It wasn't discussed in this performance, but I sat there wondering if Berry's cinema deals for Diana had anything to do with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson starring together in The Wiz.

One of the other major players in MOTOWN the Musical was Smokey Robinson, (played by Jesse Nager), which I didn't know much about, but definitely know his music! The show totally nails his speaking voice, as well as many other nuances of other Motown stars...brilliantly played!  

MOTOWN the Musical | Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye | Photo: Joan Marcus
MOTOWN the Musical | Marvin Gaye | Photo: Joan Marcus

One of history's more profound singers, Marvin Gaye's music has long been a favorite of soulful. What I didn't know was how strong an activist he was. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I liked his music so much. 

We had the wonderful pleasure of hearing Jarran Muse (Marvin Gaye) perform Mercy, Mercy Me...I never thought I'd hear that live! That one song has so many levels to it...listen to the words, again. 

MOTOWN the Musical | The Temptations | Photo: Joan Marcus
MOTOWN the Musical | The Temptations | Photo: Joan Marcus

Get ReadyI'm not sure how The Temptations got their name because their music is irresistible! Yet another group whose music I loved as a kid. They had some cool moves, too. 

One of the things that is so incredible about this show is that there are not only nine scenes in Act I and nine scenes in Act II, but there are multiple songs in many of those! And the set design is AMAZING! Allow me to say it again...the set design is AMAZING!  

MOTOWN the Musical | Berry Gordy & Cast | Photo: Joan Marcus
MOTOWN the Musical | Berry Gordy & Cast | Photo: Joan Marcus

There is an incredible amount of talent represented in this show, including The Marvelettes, Stevie WonderJackie Wilson and Rick James! The entertainment value of this show surpasses every expectation I had...and I had high expectations! The acting, dancing and singing talent on stage is brilliant...this cast represents Broadway in the finest form. 

Once again, I find myself writing the tip of the iceberg...there's so much going on in this show, so many wonderful things, you have no idea you're about to be hit with such a wonderful performance! 

A huge "Thank you" to BRAVE Public Relations for the tickets (Kellie, you're awesome!) and a reminder to my readers that the opinions expressed in my writings are my own. If I don't enjoy something, I won't write about it. THIS I enjoyed...toe tapping, clapping and singing the whole night! 

MOTOWN the Musical, part of the Broadway in Atlanta series, is at the Fox Theatre now through Sunday, August 23. Go, go, go! 

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