On December 16th, the seats of the Orpheum Theatre were filled with eager audience members ready to live, or re-live, the thrilling sounds of Motown. Motown the Musical will be transforming Minneapolis into the fast paced and inspiring town of Hitsville, U.S.A from December 16-28th. This exhilarating show takes audience members back in time to the 50s and 60s, allowing them to join their favorite Motown artists on their paths to success. Legendary founder of Motown, Berry Gordy, leaps over obstacles to catapult the careers of Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Jackson Five and many more. The show does a brilliant job of not only just showcasing great music and tons of talent, but also shows the racial struggles the characters went through and the important historical events of the time period. This musical is made of heart, soul, and an unbelieveable amount of passion.
From the moment the orchestra started the overture, you could feel a rush of energy surge throughout the crowd, and it was no secret that the cast was also having a great time on stage. It’s pretty special when it is obvious that the actors love what they do. This cast definitely shared that throughout their performance. At times it felt as though some ensemble members were distracting from the focus of the scene because they were a little too big with their movements, but there was never a dull moment on stage. Everyone in the cast was committed and shared their genuine love for performing, especially in the more powerful musical numbers. Numbers like “War” and “Hey Joe (Black Like Me)” were strong and exciting, showing some of the essential history to the time period. This musical also does a brilliant job of not just using the songs to have them there, but actually following a compelling story. Motown the Musical is littered with unforgettable moments, and unforgettable characters.
Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) was beautiful and charming, especially shining in the number “Reach Out and Touch.” This was the most audience interactive moment in the show, and definitely one of the most unforgettable. You could practically feel the joy of the audience members who were asked to sing a little bit of the song with Semmes. It felt like Diana Ross herself was up there singing to us. As amazing as all of the characters were, one of the biggest standouts was the youngest member in the cast. Reed L. Shannon (Young Berry Gordy/Young Stevie Wonder/Young Michael Jackson) was such a shining light. Jaws dropped when this little boy opened his mouth to sing. He had spark, passion and stole the show with his outstanding presence.
Don’t be surprised if after the show you actually catch people dancing in the street, Motown the Musical is contagious. Get your tickets and get ready for an unforgettable night!