What do you think of when you hear Motown? The 70s? Detroit? Berry Gordy? All of these things are present in Motown The Musical. It is the story of how Motown (short for “Motor Town” a.k.a. Detroit) came to be. Filled with 60 songs from Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and more, this show is bound to make you dance in your seat.
The talent in Motown was phenomenal. Every character was a real life person. The actors portrayed them flawlessly. It was like watching Diana Ross giving us a concert in Las Vegas. It felt like the audience was there at the 25thanniversary celebration in 1983. Every detail was on point. Allison Semmes was the most outstanding actor in the cast. She impersonated Diana Ross like you could never imagine. With audience participation during “Reach Out and Touch,” she was stunning in her warmth and inclusiveness. Another amazing singer was Reed L. Shannon as the young Michael Jackson. His bursts of energy put a smile on everyone’s face. They were all great. All of the singers on stage had very organic voices, adding their own flare to the path already set by the superstar characters.
The set was innovative. Some parts of it really set the scene, but others seemed like a work in progress. For example, the backdrop of houses on a street looked like a graphic designing website. It didn’t feel like we were “Dancing in the Streets” of Detroit. The lighting, however, was fantastic. I have never seen so much projection of video in a show before, but it worked out. It added to the story in ways that helped me understand the politics. Lastly, the orchestra was energetic and loud. Almost too loud. They overpowered the actors sometimes. They were amazing and all, but volume was not their forte.
The show was written by Berry Gordy himself. He did a wonderful job telling the story of how Motown came to be. I learned a lot about it and had a fun time learning it. Sometimes it seemed like “The Berry Gordy Show” instead of giving a view from every character. But somehow, this is appropriate since Berry Gordy put his life into starting Motown and wanted people to know about it. Some of the songs were performed in a concert setting, and some were performed in the context of the story. This worked extremely well. Especially when shows like that don’t usually work. *cough* We Will Rock You *cough*
Overall, this is one of my favorite shows of all time. Everyone of all ages should see it and be inspired by the hard work that put this era of music together. It is truly inspiring to see all of the amazing music being performed in one place all over again. Thank you, Berry Gordy.