Motown The Musical (4 stars)

Motown The Musical

credit: Tristram Kenton

A visually stunning tour of the swinging hit musical, telling the story of Berry Gordy's rise and fall as the founder of Motown Records

Motown The Musical, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, depicts the record label founder Berry Gordy's tumultuous journey to fame. His legendary record label gave a musical voice to African Americans at a time when Jim Crow was hanging on, the Vietnam War was at its peak, and radio stations were as racially divided as the nation that they played to. It is becoming increasingly clear that the troubles that plagued 1960s America are not as far in the past as it may feel, and so this tour is as important as it is impressive.

The powerful voices of the cast steal the show, doing justice to the songs that we all know at least the first two lines to. The sets, designed by David Korins, are dazzling, and take you right back to the swinging sixties, with colourful, animated slats that add a new level of excitement to the songs we've been singing for decades.

Patricia Wilcox's choreography is entertaining and true to the show's source, but its delivery isn't as slick as you would hope from The Supremes and The Jackson 5. The second act also involves some clumsy audience participation, when you would hope that this was a show to celebrate the voice of Motown, not the audience.

Nonetheless, the classics of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder prevail in this celebration of black culture and music. A fantastic musical that will stand the test of time as well as its soundtrack.

King's Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 16 Nov then touring.

Motown The Musical

  • Directed by: Charles Randolph-Wright, Patricia Wilcox, Warren Adams
  • Written by: Berry Gordy

Nostalgic musical charting the journey of Berry Gordy from boxer to Motown music mogul.

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