Motown the Musical Review - Dancing in the Street

The stage opens in 1983 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The Motown Recording stars are gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Motown. After a great opening number the audience is taken back to see just how Motown began.  During the first few minutes of the show, my sister leaned over and said “this is going to be one big party!” She was right.

The Temptations MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

Neither my sister nor I were alive, during the beginnings of Motown, but we still grew up listing to and singing along with the greats, Diana Ross, Jackson 5, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and others. I always wished I could have seen them live, but never had the opportunity to.  So for at least me, sitting in that audience was a dream come true.

Krisha Marcano (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) & Trisha Jeffrey (Mary Wilson) MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

The story followed the life of Berry Gordy, the mastermind behind Motown.  At a young age he watched as boxer Joe Louis won the heavy weight championship. He wanted to be like Joe but was given good advice: to be the best Berry Gordy he could be, and that’s exactly what he set out to do.

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye & Cast MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

With songs like, “Dancing in the Street,” “ABC,” “Do you Love Me,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” “Brick House,” “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” and so many more, you might wonder how this is even a Broadway show and not just a revival concert.  The creator answered that questions at the conclusion of the opening night performance at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood.  They said they weren’t bringing Broadway to Motown, but rather they were bringing Motown to Broadway, and they accomplished just that.


As the story travelled the songs were used to enhance the situations. Some songs were sung, such as “War,” to emphasize the situation the people were facing with discrimination. Some songs were there to show the love between two people. The songs weren’t there to just be sung. I feel they chose each song specifically and the songs helped to bring the story and the songs themselves to life. They were no longer songs I had heard on cassettes and vinyl’s, they were alive and had meaning.

Julius Thomas III as Berry Gordy, Allison Semmes as Diana Ross MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (C) Joan Marcus, 2015

Jesse Nager, who played Smokey Robinson, Julius Thomas III, the grown up Berry Gordon, Jarran Muse, as Marvin Gaye, Allison Semmes, as Diana Ross, the young Leon Outlaw Jr, as young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson, and the rest of the cast were simply incredible. The audience loved when Nager said his first lines as Smokey Robinson, capturing the voice of Smokey so perfectly.

Reed L Shannon as Michael Jackson (center) with the Jackson 5 MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

When Outlaw began to sing with the Jackson 5 my sister leaned over and said “he sounds just like him.” I agreed, the casting for Motown the Musical was impeccable.  The actors seemed to really care about their roles and not only practiced their lines, and their movements but practiced their roles and learned who their characters were, and how they were.

Julius Thomas III as Berry Gordy (center right) & Cast MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (C) Joan Marcus, 2015

I couldn’t have been more pleased with Motown the Musical. Go and see it while you can.  Bring Motown back into your life, or experience it for the first time. You won’t be disappointed. It is well worth it, and will have you dancing in your seats!

Allison Semmes as Diana Ross, Julius Thomas III as Berry Gordy MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (C) Joan Marcus, 2015

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL features choreography by Patricia Wilcox (A Night with Janis Joplin) and Warren Adams (Toy Story), scenic design by David Korins (Bring It On: The Musical, Annie), costume design by Tony Award® nominee ESosa (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, “Project Runway”), lighting design by Tony Award® winner Natasha Katz (Once, Sister Act), sound design by Tony Award® nominee Peter Hylenski (Rock of Ages, The Scottsboro Boys), projection design by Daniel Brodie (Jekyll and Hyde), hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe (Memphis) and casting by Telsey + Company.

Jesse Nager as Smokey Robinson, Julius Thomas III as Berry Gordy MOTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (C) Joan Marcus, 2015

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL’s arrangements and orchestrations are by Grammy and Tony Award® nominee Ethan Popp (Rock of Ages), who also serves as music supervisor in reproducing the classic “Sound of Young America,” with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Tony Award® nominee Bryan Crook (“Smash”) and dance arrangements by Zane Mark (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels).

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is produced by Tony Award® winning producer Kevin McCollum (Rent, In the Heights, Avenue Q), Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Entertainment Doug Morris and Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Patrice Covington as Martha Reeves (center) & Cast MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

The performance schedule for MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm. Opening Night is Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 8pm, and runs through June 7 2015.

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is recommended for ages 10 and up. (Children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre. All patrons must have a ticket, regardless of age.)

Individual tickets for MOTOWN THE MUSICAL start at $25.  Prices are subject to change without notice.

Go online for more information on MOTOWN THE MUSICAL.

For tickets or more information about the Los Angeles engagement of MOTOWN THE MUSICAL, please visit the official website for Hollywood Pantages Theatre.


Motown the Musical Tour Dates:

Los Angeles, CA: now - June 7, 2015

San Deigo, CA: June 9 - June 14, 2015

Costa Mesa, CA: June 16 - June 28, 2015

Milwaukee, MI: July 7 - July 12, 2015

Memphis, TN: July 14 - July 19, 2015

Houston, TX: July 21 - July 26, 2015

Dallas, TX: July 28 - Aug 16, 2015

More dates, and locations on the official Motown the Musical website.

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