Motown is coming to midtown.
Glamorized, souped-up and ready to go, the Manhattan arrival is not a show about cars but a salute to the motor city and Berry Gordy, its most accomplished record label founder. Spotlighting the music that shattered barriers and shaped lives, “Motown The Musical” is slated to premiere at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on April 14, 2013.
Top-heavy with original music from Detroit, a sneak preview of the season’s most highly anticipated world-premiere event attracted A-listers and insiders invited for a first glimpse of the production.
Detroit’s most-famous daughter Aretha Franklin joined Gordy, Claudette Robinson, former backup singer with the Miracles; Otis Williams, original member of The Temptations, Clive Davis and Doug Morris, record company moguls, songwriters William “Smokey” Robinson, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Valerie Simpson, producer Suzanne DePasse, dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen, Rev. Jesse Jackson, former LaBelle singer Nona Hendrix, music manager Vickie Wickham, Rhonda, Gordy’s daughter with Diana Ross and entertainment insiders to get a first night preview of the musical based on Gordy’s book “To Be Loved.”
The first authentic production to showcase the rise of Detroit’s most acclaimed record company stars Brandon Victor Dixon and Valisia LeKae as Gordy and Diana Ross.
Already, both are being touted as ‘discoveries’ destined for major stardom.
On her first outing before a critical crowd, LeKae won raves.
She channels the Boss and struts a Diva personality only an opera star could rival.
With just a snippet of her portrayal of the label’s best-known female, Ross’ real life daughter Rhonda led a standing ovation to a rousing approval of the Supreme character.
The stage production combines the use of footage from the documentary of the same name with dancers and singers to choreograph a biographical salute to the insightful and talented music innovator.
While the musical spotlights Gordy and the galaxy he created in the middle of America, the show also reminisces the period of Jim Crow when Blacks endured racism and discrimination in the south during the struggle for Civil Rights.
“Broadway has never seen anything like this,” producer Kevin McCollum said.
And while there are back and side-stories to this presentation, audiences will leave singing the praises of Motown and Gordy.
“It’s thrilling to bring together the musical legacy of Berry Gordy” and Broadway to tell the gripping story behind the hits Robinson made after finding his unique voice and watching Diana skyrocket to stardom.
Robinson auditioned as a singer and after being hired emerged one of the label’s principal songwriters.
The hits he wrote for the Temptations, Four Tops, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Tyrell and others placed him in a special relationship where they partnered and saw the label skyrocket to the top.
To see Berry fight against the odds that turned his improbable dream into a triumphant reality is nothing short of spectacular.
As the biographic storyline goes, on January 12, 1959 a young African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy founded Tamla Records in Detroit with a loan of $800 from his family, marking the birth of the “Motown Records Corporation.”
Gordy’s legendary Motown Records made its mark not just on the music industry but society at large, with a sound that has become one of the most significant musical accomplishments of all time. The Detroit label communicated and brought together a racially divided country and segregated society, touching people of all ages and races around the world. No other music company in history has exerted such an enormous influence on both the style and substance of popular music and culture.
With more than 180 number one hit songs worldwide and counting, that influence is still being felt today. Adapted from a book Gordy wrote, the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed America forever unfolds to stage a musically enchanting real-life story. The exhilarating show charts Motown founder Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Martha & The Vandellas and others.
Previews will begin at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on March 11 but already early-bird ticket sales are becoming the hottest items to purchase as Christmas gifts.
The buzz has begun.
From now until show time, that early buzz will heighten to music and amplify with the lyrics to a hit song penned by Robinson: “Get ready, ‘cause here we come!”
Catch You On The Inside!