Motown: The Musical

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Motown: The Musical
MusicVarious Artists
LyricsVarious Artists
BookBerry Gordy
BasisTo Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown by Berry Gordy
Productions2013 Broadway
2014 US Tour
2016 West End
2016 Broadway Revival
2018 UK Tour

Motown: The Musical is a jukebox musical that premiered on Broadway in April 2013. The musical is based on Berry Gordy's autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown (1994),[1] and on the history of his founding and running of the Motown record label, and his personal and professional relationships with Motown artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson. The production's music and lyrics are taken from selections from the Motown catalog.[2] It received four nominations at the 67th Tony Awards.


Motown: The Musical premiered on Broadway, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, on April 14, 2013, after previews starting on March 11.[3][4] The production was directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, with choreography by Patricia Wilcox, scenic design by David Korins, costumes by ESosa, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound design by Peter Hylenski, and projection design by Daniel Brodie. Music supervision and arrangements were by Ethan Popp, with orchestrations by Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook.[3]

The musical finished its original Broadway run on January 18, 2015, closing after 37 previews and 738 regular performances.[5]

A national tour began in April 2014, featuring Clifton Oliver and Allison Semmes.[6]

The show returned to Broadway on July 12, 2016,[7] for an announced 18-week run at the Nederlander Theatre.[8] However, the run closed earlier than expected, on July 31, 2016.[9]

After speculation that a London production would be staged in the Dominion Theatre, which would be refurbished following the closure of We Will Rock You,[10] an eventual West End production was announced in May 2015 for the Shaftesbury Theatre, which began on February 11, 2016,[11] running until April 20, 2019.[12] The West End production was directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, who also directed this musical on Broadway and its US tour. The cast stars Cedric Neal (as Berry Gordy), Lucy St. Louis (as Diana Ross), Sifiso Mazibuko (as Marvin Gaye), and Obioma Ugoala (as Smokey Robinson).[13][14] A UK and Ireland tour began on October 11, 2018, at The Alexandra, Birmingham.


In 1983, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, recording stars are gathered to celebrate Motown Records' 25th anniversary. In a flashback, the young Berry Gordy watches the neighbors dancing in Detroit. In 1957, the adult Berry forms his own record label, and begins to make lifelong friends with recording artists/singers such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. Berry discovers the Supremes and Diana Ross, among many others.

The recording stars sing their popular numbers, including: Diana Ross ("I Hear a Symphony", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", and "You're All I Need to Get By"), Stevie Wonder, The Supremes ("Buttered Popcorn", "Where Did Our Love Go"), The Miracles ("Shop Around"), The Marvelettes ("Please Mr. Postman"), Mary Wells ("Bye Bye Baby"/"Two Lovers Medley"), The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas ("Dancing in the Street"), The Contours ("Do You Love Me"), and The Jackson 5.[15]

Original casts[edit]

Casts of Motown: The Musical
Character Broadway (2013)[16] U.S. Tour (2014) West End (2016) U.K. Tour (2018)
Berry Gordy Brandon Victor Dixon Clifton Oliver Cedric Neal Edward Baruwa
Marvin Gaye Bryan Terrell Clark Jarran Muse Sifiso Mazibuko Shak Gabbidon-Williams
Smokey Robinson Charl Brown Nicholas Christopher Charl Brown Nathan Lewis
Diana Ross Valisia LeKae Allison Semmes Lucy St. Louis Karis Anderson
Young Berry Gordy/Young Michael Jackson/Young Stevie Wonder Raymond Luke Jr./Jaleel Battles Jr. Reed L. Shannon/ Jaleel Battles Jr. Eshan Gopal Joshua Vaughan
Leon Outlaw, Jr. Kwame Kandekore Keiran Edwards
Joshua Tikare Mickell Stewart-Grimes
Yami Mirazi

Musical numbers[edit]

The musical contains a total of 66 songs. The following song list is not the order of the songs in the production:[17]

Songs in Motown: The Musical
Song Original artist Written by
"ABC" The Jackson 5 Alphonso Mizell, Freddie Perren, Berry Gordy Jr., Deke Richards
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell Valerie Simpson, Nickolas Ashford
"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" The Temptations Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland
"All Night Long (All Night)" Lionel Richie Lionel Richie
"Baby I Need Your Loving" The Four Tops Holland–Dozier–Holland
"Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" The Temptations Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong
"A Breathtaking Guy" Smokey Robinson Smokey Robinson
"Brick House" The Commodores Lionel Richie, Ronald LaPread, Walter Orange, Milan Williams, Thomas McClary, William King
"Buttered Popcorn" The Supremes Berry Gordy Jr., Barney Ales
"Bye Bye Baby" Mary Wells Mary Wells
"Can I Close the Door" Berry Gordy, Michael Lovesmith
"Come See About Me" The Supremes Holland–Dozier–Holland
"Cruisin'" Smokey Robinson Smokey Robinson, Marv Tarplin
"Dancing in the Street" Martha and the Vandellas Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter, William "Mickey" Stevenson
"Do You Love Me" The Contours Berry Gordy
"Fingertips, Part 2" Stevie Wonder Clarence Paul, Henry Cosby
"For Once in My Life" Jean DuShon Orlando Murden, Ronald Miller
"Get Ready" The Temptations Smokey Robinson
"Give It to Me Baby" Rick James Rick James
"Good Morning Heartache" Billie Holiday Ervin Drake, Dan Fisher, Irene Higginbotham
"Got a Job" Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy Jr., Billy Davis
"Hail to the Beat" Berry Gordy Jr., Michael Lovesmith
"The Happening" The Supremes Holland–Dozier–Holland, Frank De Vol
"Happy Birthday" Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder
"Hey Joe (Black Like Me)" Berry Gordy Jr., Michael Lovesmith
"How High the Moon" Two for the Show Morgan Lewis, Nancy Hamilton
"I Can't Get Next to You" The Temptations Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" The Four Tops Holland–Dozier–Holland
"I Got a Feeling" The Four Tops Holland–Dozier–Holland
"I Hear a Symphony" The Supremes Holland–Dozier–Holland
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Gladys Knight & the Pips Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong
"(I Know) I'm Losing You" The Temptations Holland–Dozier–Holland
"I Want You Back" The Jackson 5 Alphonso Mizell, Freddie Perren, Berry Gordy Jr., Deke Richards
"I'll Be There" The Jackson 5 Holland–Dozier–Holland
"It's What's in the Grooves That Counts" Berry Gordy Jr., Michael Lovesmith
"Lonely Teardrops" Jackie Wilson Berry Gordy Jr., Gwen Gordy Fuqua, Billy Davis
"Love Child" Diana Ross & The Supremes R. Dean Taylor, Frank Wilson, Pam Sawyer and Richards
"Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" The Supremes Holland–Dozier–Holland
"The Love You Save" The Jackson 5 Alphonso Mizell, Freddie Perren, Berry Gordy Jr., Deke Richards
"Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" Marvin Gaye Marvin Gaye
"My Girl" The Temptations Smokey Robinson, Ronnie White
"My Guy" Mary Wells Smokey Robinson
"My Mama Done Told Me" Dinah Shore Berry Gordy Jr., Smokey Robinson, Billy Davis
"Please Mr. Postman" The Marvelettes William Garrett, Georgia Dobbins, B. Holland, Freddie Gorman, Robert Bateman
"Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" Diana Ross Valerie Simpson, Nickolas Ashford
"Reach Out I'll Be There" The Four Tops Holland–Dozier–Holland
"Reet Petite" Jackie Wilson Berry Gordy Jr., Billy Davis
"Remember Me" Diana Ross Valerie Simpson, Nickolas Ashford
"Shop Around" The Miracles Berry Gordy Jr., Smokey Robinson
"Shotgun" Jr. Walker & the All Stars Junior Walker
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright, Lee Garrett, Lula Mae Hardaway
"Square Biz" Teena Marie Mary C. Brockert, Allen McGrier
"Stop! In the Name of Love" The Supremes Holland–Dozier–Holland
"Stubborn Kind of Fellow" Marvin Gaye Gaye, George Gordy, Stevenson
"Super Freak" Rick James Rick James
"The Tears of a Clown" The Miracles Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Henry Cosby
"To Be Loved" Berry Gordy Jr., Gwen Fuqua, Billy Davis
"Two Lovers" Mary Wells Smokey Robinson
"War" Edwin Starr Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong
"What's Going On" Marvin Gaye Marvin Gaye, Renaldo Benson, Al Cleveland
"Where Did Our Love Go" The Supremes Holland–Dozier–Holland
"Who's Lovin' You" Smokey Robinson Smokey Robinson
"You Are You" Berry Gordy Jr.
"You're All I Need to Get By" Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell Valerie Simpson, Nickolas Ashford
"You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You" Russ Morgan Russ Morgan, James Cavanaugh, Larry Stock
"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" The Miracles Smokey Robinson

Critical response[edit]

Charles Isherwood, in his review for The New York Times, wrote: "More than 50 songs...are performed in 'Motown,' usually, alas, in truncated versions. Most are simply presented as concert versions by the actors playing the artists who made them famous, but a few are shoehorned awkwardly into the story as 'book' songs.... Making way for so much music means that 'Motown' breezily scrimps on storytelling. Characters come and go so quickly we barely have time to register their famous names, let alone get to know them.... The performers put their songs across with verve and an admirable lack of self-consciousness, given that the audience is likely to be intimately familiar with every nuance of phrasing from the original recordings...."[2]

The TheatreMania reviewer noted:

Rather than giving us a complex portrait on this fascinating businessman, the show's shoddily written book is essentially a self-serving theatrical memoir in which Gordy gets to tell his life story. But just as importantly, the piece also serves as a celebration of the music that brought America's black and white populations together in a way nothing else ever did. Perhaps that is why Gordy and his creative team, led by director Charles Randolph-Wright, seem so worried they left out an audience favorite that they crammed in more than 50 hits. The result is that too few of the beloved Motown classics receive the kind of full-scale, all-out renditions they deserve. An early, extended version of Martha & The Vandellas' 'Dancing in the Street' proves not just a high point (abetted by energetic choreography from Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams), but a false promise of what lies ahead....The one person who truly shines, though, is Valisia LeKae as Gordy's longtime paramour, superstar Diana Ross. It's not just her almost spot-on re-creation of Miss Ross' breathy voice and steely demeanor that commands our attention. The consistent display of her genuine star power — most evident in a thrilling 'Reach Out and Touch' segment — also draws us in.[18]


  1. ^ Haithman, Diane (December 11, 1994). "Talk! In the Name of Love". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b Isherwood, Charles (April 14, 2013). "'Motown: The Musical,' Berry Gordy's Story". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b Hetrick, Adam (April 14, 2013). "'Hail to the Beat': 'Motown: The Musical' Opens On Broadway April 14". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 5, 2013.
  4. ^ McCollum, Brian (February 7, 2013). "Berry Gordy's 'Motown: The Musical' preparing to make Broadway debut". Detroit Free Press.
  5. ^ Hetrick, Adam; Gioia, Michael (January 18, 2015). "Motown Moves Out; Hit Broadway Musical Closes With Promise of 2016 Return". Playbill.
  6. ^ Hetrick, Adam; Gans, Andrew (April 21, 2014). "'Motown' National Tour Extends Chicago Engagement to August". Playbill.
  7. ^ Baron, Tricia. "'Motown The Musical' Celebrates Its Second Broadway Opening", July 15, 2016.
  8. ^ Viagas, Robert; Adam Hetrick (December 6, 2015). "Motown Sets Dates and Theatre for Broadway Return". Playbill.
  9. ^ Viagas, Robert (July 21, 2016). "Breaking: Broadway Motown Announces Closing". Playbill.
  10. ^ "'Motown: The Musical' boogies into Dominion after We Will Rock You?". What's On Stage. March 11, 2014.
  11. ^ "Motown the Musical to open at the Shaftesbury Theatre". London Theatre. May 15, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
  12. ^ BWW News Desk (August 15, 2018). "MOTOWN THE MUSICAL Will Play Final West End Performance 20 April 2019". Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  13. ^ Motown: The Musical website.
  14. ^ "Casting Announced for Motown The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre". October 5, 2015. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  15. ^ Saltzman, Simon (April 13, 2013). "Review: 'Motown: The Musical'". CurtainUp.
  16. ^ "Broadway 2013" ibdb, retrieved December 30, 2018
  17. ^ "Motown: The Musical — Songs". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  18. ^ Lipton, Brian Scott. "Review. 'Motown: The Musical'", April 14, 2013

External links[edit]