Review: Motown The Musical (touring). Nottingham Theatre Royal.



The music of Motown is preparing to observe its 60th anniversary so what better way to celebrate than to pay a visit to Motown the Musical on its first multi venue UK tour and currently showing off its distinctly slick style at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday May 4th!

This show has all the West End pizazz of the Shaftsbury Avenue production and charts the story of Berry Gordy’s life and his development of Motown Records in Detroit, Michigan. This soon became known as Hitsville USA. Gordy is quoted as being like a beacon of light and musical magnet that attracted soloists and boy/girl groups from all over the country with what became Motown’s signature sound.

A scene from Motown The Musical, UK Tour @TristramKenton

What makes Berry Gordy’s story interesting is, aside from his drive and popular music vision, is that his life contains all the ups and downs synonymous with creative success. Some of his most popular artistes move away from the Motown label to more financially lucrative offers.

A scene from Motown The Musical, UK Tour @TristramKenton


Despite many artistic and personal drawbacks Berry Gordy’s Motown Records label produced over 525 hit records and made international stars of the likes of The Temptations, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Commodores and Lionel Richie.

A scene from Motown The Musical, UK Tour. Photo. Tristram Kenton.

The actor/artistes involved really resonate with the feel of the originals such as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Martha and The Vandelas and Smokey Robinson. The impression as a whole is one of slick exuberance and showmanship perfection. The dynamic show features over fifty Motown back catalogue classic hits including My Girl, What’s Going On? Happy Birthday, I Can’t Get Next To You, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Good Morning Heartache, I’ll Be There, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) and Dancin’ In The Street. You too could well be dancing in the street after enjoying this fabulous, life enhancing, production! This Nottingham Theatre Royal press night audience love every second.

Photo: Tristram Kenton

This is an impressively large cast show featuring Karis Anderson (Diana Ross), Nathan Lewis (Smokey Robinson), and Shak Gabbidon- Williams (Marvin Gaye). Edward Baruwa plays Gordy with great autocratic charisma in this touring production. The whole ensemble work tremendously hard under director Charles Randolph- Wright and choreographers Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams. Emilio Sosa’s brilliantly authentic period costume designs really add to the sparkle of Motown the Musical.

A scene from Motown The Musical, UK Tour @TristramKenton

The sliding set by David Korins gives us the impression of 1960s moving into the early 1970s both for popular music and the important elements of social politics of the time, particularly appertaining to coloured communities in the USA. The show both opens and closes with blasts of Motown music and the evergreen songs are all delivered with maximum power by the cast.

A scene from Motown The Musical, UK Tour @TristramKenton


A scene from Motown The Musical, UK Tour @TristramKenton

Originally reviewed for Nottingham Post.

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