Many anxious people meandered into the Orpheum theater in Minneapolis on Tuesday night awaiting the experience they wouldn’t soon forget. Opening night of Motown the Musical did not disappoint. Starting in the one and only “Motor City” of Detroit, Michigan, Motown begins with a lively overture from the orchestra followed by a high-energy medley of some of the classic music from the time period, instantly pulling the audience in. In just two and a half hours Motown spans a time period of 45 years, highlighting the struggle to obtain equality among musicians of different races. Going into the production with some background knowledge may not be a bad thing.
Julius Thomas Ⅲ (Berry Gordy) was spot on in portraying the struggles Berry Gordy actually faced starting in 1959. Thomas wasn’t the only one with an amazing sense of their character. Jesse Nager (Smokey Robinson) was passionate about his role as well. Overall, there was a sense of joy coming from all of the actors when they sang their hearts out. Not only joy but also remorse when historical events set back their progress in fighting for equality. It was truly amazing to watch. It felt as if you were actually in the meeting deciding which hits to record in Hitsville, USA. The orchestra was also a key part of making the classic music come to life and under the direction of Darryl Archibald, they did not disappoint. The role of Michael Jackson was played by Reed L Shannon, and sang “ABC” as if he was Michael himself. One minor detail was Jarran Muse (Marvin Gaye) the audience didn’t connect with him as much as the other leads.
The set changes were intriguing. Moving pillars and all of the different lighting on those pillars were interesting. During some of the songs, different newspaper headlines and pictures of iconic people of the time were projected onto the pillars for example when President Kennedy was assassinated, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. it added a lot to the show. One technical flaw was the microphones. A few times there were cracks in the sound or the microphone wasn’t turned on in time for the actors to relay their lines. Another thing worth mentioning was the silhouetting of the dancers in the background while action was happening in the front of the stage. It was impressive.
Highlighting other aspects of the performance, the audience was interesting. For a Tuesday night the crowd was very lively and excited to hear the classic songs from the past decades. The jokes were strategically placed in the script and made for a good, genuine laugh. The storyline kept viewers dancing in their seats and even in the streets when the performance came to a close.
Opening night of Motown had an energetic atmosphere and involved the audience with all of the music. The show runs through the holidays until December 28th. All of the historical elements make the show very interesting and fun to watch. I want you back, Motown if you would let me back in your heart.