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Motown musical gets ready for Broadway

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Motown musical gets ready for Broadway

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:50 am

Motown musical gets ready for Broadway
by By Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press

February 7, 2013

NEW YORK - Bit by bit, Berry Gordy's Broadway vision is being revealed to the world.
The Motown Records founder and about 40 cast members welcomed media to a Manhattan rehearsal studio Thursday for a colorful peek into Motown: The Musical, as the show flies toward its spring opening.

Dozens of journalists assembled for Thursday's event in what some Broadway media veterans said was a notably large showing of interest for an upcoming show.
A grinning Gordy looked on as cast members performed several high-energy numbers from the musical, their dance steps booming across the rehearsal space during a final ensemble performance of Dancing in the Street.

Among them was a pair of Detroiters: Twelve-year-old Jibreel Mawry played a young Michael Jackson, fronting a group of actors in a medley of Jackson 5 hits set on Ed Sullivan's show. Jawan Jackson, 25, was a deep-voiced Melvin Franklin in a sleekly choreographed Temptations performance of My Girl.

Much of Motown is set in 1960s Detroit, tracing the label's story through Gordy's eyes and pivoting around his romance with Diana Ross. Producers are hoping to capture the same mainstream appeal that made hits out of jukebox musicals such as Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia!, banking on the enduring appeal of Motown's song catalog. The show features key Motown roles like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Actors spoke enthusiastically and even romantically on Thursday as they reflected on Motown's legacy.
Co-producer Kevin McCollum said Motown carries a theme found in his own previous theatrical work, including Broadway hits Rent and Avenue Q: young people coming together to create family.

"It's about how one man formed a family that, through art and talent, transformed America," he said.

Director Charles Randolph-Wright recounted an e-mail he recently got from Gordy, who at 83 seems re-energized by the Motown production - conceiving the script, penning four new songs and working with the cast.

"Thank you for joy at this time in my life when I thought I had everything," the e-mail read.
"The thing that's so incredible for him is he's back to being creative," said Randolph-Wright. "He's doing something that I don't think he's done to this extent since he began. How great, at this point in your career, to do that?"

As Motown makes its way toward March 11 previews at New York's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and an April 14 premiere, a full-on marketing blitz will kick in, said McCollum, including a three-story billboard in Times Square. The show's budget has been reported at $12 million, though the musical's publicity team would not confirm that number.

Already Chrysler Corp. is on board in what officials call a strategic partnership, linking the show to broader Detroit mythology. A television spot debuted in December featuring Gordy in a Chrysler 300.

For Detroit's Jawan Jackson, the Motown experience has been a three-week whirlwind, ever since he got the big phone call on Jan. 14: He'd landed a part in the show as The Temptations' bass singer.

Jackson's journey started in the fall, when he dropped in on a whim to Motown auditions at Detroit's Perfecting Church. He made the first callback - auditioning again at the Motown Museum in November - then was summoned to New York for a final look.
"When they called me, at first I thought, 'Is somebody playing with me?' " he said. "I though I was getting punked by my friends."

He has spent weeks now watching Temptations videos, listening to songs as he goes to bed, "really trying to get Melvin Franklin into my head." Friends and family back in Detroit are ecstatic about his life's unexpected Broadway detour.

"They can't believe it," Jackson said. "I've got busloads coming to see the show."
Thursday's press event came on the heels of a New York Post column that claimed producers are in a late-hour scramble to hammer Gordy's screenplay into reasonable Broadway shape.

While conceding that the Motown story line has evolved significantly since Gordy's initial outline, McCollum on Thursday refuted the notion that the script is in turmoil. The only real problem, he said, has been deciding which scenes to cut from Motown's storied history.
"We're having to choose our moments," he said.

"The thing about Broadway is it's not just last-minute - it's every minute that has urgency," said McCollum, who compared the logistics of a big show to "landing at Normandy."

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Jibreel Mawry, left, and Raymond Luke Jr. will play a young Berry Gordy, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. At 12, they're the youngest actors in the upcoming 'Motown:The Musical.' (Credit: Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press)

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Re: Motown musical gets ready for Broadway

Post by ljmissmj on Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:12 am

previews start in March. Honestly I'm not into plays that much - but this one I may have to check out. Motown was the soundtrack of my life for real. The Tempations, Four Tops, Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder(ful) AND THE JACKSON 5 and of course MICHAEL BABY to name a few!!! I remember my brother formed a singing group based on the Temptations. Needless to say, they never made it out of Springfield Mass, but they were good and the girls would go crazy?? Over my brother, if they only knew lol! Those were fascinating times growing up- there was allot of turmoil as well. But the great thing is The birth of Rhythm and Blues and Soul music.
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]"Get Ready": Berry Gordy's Life Story Takes Stage in Motown: The Musical, Beginning March 11

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:50 pm

"Get Ready": Berry Gordy's Life Story Takes Stage in Motown: The Musical, Beginning March 11
By Adam Hetrick

11 Mar 2013

Motown, the new hit-filled jukebox musical about the life and career of music mogul Berry Gordy, starring Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon and Valisia LaKae, begins Broadway previews March 11 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.


Charles Randolph-Wright directs Motown, which is studded with songs made famous by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. It officially opens April 14.

Gordy, who also authored the book to Motown, is producing the musical along with Tony winner Kevin McCollum (Rent, In the Heights, Avenue Q) and Sony Music CEO Doug Morris. Read the March 2013 Playbill magazine feature about the show.

Tony Award nominee Dixon (The Color Purple, The Scottsboro Boys) and LeKae (Ragtime, The Book of Mormon) co-star as Gordy and Diana Ross, respectively. The cast also features Raymond Luke Jr. and Jibreel Mawry sharing the roles of young Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Berry Gordy, with Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye and Charl Brown (Jersey Boys, Sister Act) as Smokey Robinson.


Completing the cast are Morgan James (Godspell), Saycon Sengbloh (Fela, Hair), John Jellison (Memphis) and N'Kenge (Sondheim on Sondheim), as well as Timothy J. Alex, Michael Arnold, Nicholas Christopher, Rebecca E. Covington, Ariana DeBose, Andrea Dora, Preston W. Dugger III, Wilkie Ferguson, Dionne Figgins, Marva Hicks, Tiffany Janene Howard, Sasha Hutchings, Jawan M. Jackson, Lauren Lim Jackson, Crystal Joy, Jamie LaVerdiere, Grasan Kingsberry, Marielys Molina, Sydney Morton, Maurice Murphy, Jarran Muse, Jesse Nager, Milton Craig Nealy, Dominic Nolfi, Ryan Shaw, Jamal Story, Eric LaJuan Summers, Ephraim Sykes, Julius Thomas III, Daniel J. Watts and Donald Webber, Jr.

According to producers, "Motown tells the gripping story behind the hits as Smokey finds his unique voice, Diana skyrockets to stardom and Berry fights against the odds to turn his improbable dream into a triumphant reality. The music that shattered barriers and shaped our lives finally comes to the Broadway stage in the season's most highly anticipated world-premiere event."

Motown has scenic design by David Korins, costume design by ESosa, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Peter Hylenski, projection design by Daniel Brodie, and choreography by Patricia Wilcox (Blues in the Night) and Warren Adams ("Toy Story"). Motown features arrangements and orchestrations by Ethan Popp, with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Crook, dance arrangements by Zane Mark and music direction by Joseph Joubert.

For tickets visit Telecharge.com.

Visit MotownTheMusical.com.

View Motown in rehearsal:
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Re: Motown musical gets ready for Broadway

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:51 pm

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Re: Motown musical gets ready for Broadway

Post by Capricious Anomaly on Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:26 pm

Thanks for the update! ljmissmj you are so lucky to be in NY where you can see these plays and the MJ events! So if you go to Berry G's Motown on Broadway you will have to tell us all about it OK?
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