Bristol Hippodrome

Motown the Musical

January 2019

Dancing in the street

Motown the Musical is a lively, upbeat and soulful show telling the story of how Berry Gordy grew his famous music label from rags to riches with a meagre $800 loan from his family.

The musical is written and adapted by Gordy from his autobiography To Be Loved. 

The show features among others the sounds of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 and includes more than 50 songs.

These are all performed at full power often paired with sleek choreography.

Edward Baruwa and Karis Anderson play Berry Gordon and one of his biggest stars and one point lover, Diana Ross.

Their voices captivated the audience in their solos and duets alike with passion and a clear vocal ability which is also apparent from their abundance of professional appearances prior to this tour. 

However the show wasn’t all playful and positive; it features a reference to the current social political situation at the time, the Vietnam war, a segregated concert and the assassinations of US president John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

This leads to some of the shows most moving moments including What’s Going On by Shak Gabbidon-Williams playing Marvin Gaye who gave a phenomenally performance throughout. 

The large stage at times seemed a little bare which although it may have benefitted the performers in the spotlight as there were never more than two props in view at a time it left the vast space frequently looking empty.

Glitter balls and lavish gowns moved to psychedelic lighting and disco costumes topped with beehive then Afro wigs as the show progressed from the 60s to the 70s.

This helped age the characters as the story is all told from the perspective of Berry and leads up to the 25th anniversary of the label. 

A sliding set was used cleverly in the background to show actual album covers as performances were happening - this colourful display of pop art reflecting the time period. 

Among the talented cast young Yami Mirazi stole the show each time he set foot on the stage as a youthful Michael Jackson in Jackson 5, despite his age his immaculate vocals match his co-stars, even rivalling them in his lively performance of The Love You Save, I Want You Back and ABC.

Motown the Musical is to be enjoyed by all ages - it is not just for the baby boomers who grew up with these hits but also for a younger audience as many of the songs are still very prevalent in today’s culture.

It makes it very accessible and even eye-opening for a younger audience especially with the racial context of how the label brought different people together through music.

This was demonstrated again as old and young exited the theatre after a standing ovation, singing along to Dancing In The Street.  

Motown the Musical plays the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, February 2, tickets details in preview below.

Renée Butler

PHOTOS: Motown the Musical - from top the company, Shak Gabbidon-Williams as Marvin Gaye, Karis Anderson as Diana Ross and with the Supremes and The Four Tops all by Tristram Kenton 

Motown the Musical hits The Bristol Hippodrome

PREVIEW: Tickets for Motown the Musical which hits the Bristol Hippodrome in January 2019 on are on sale.

Motown the Musical is on a major UK and Ireland tour in 2018-2019 and arrives at the city centre theatre for  a four week run from Thursday to Saturday, January 10-February 2.

Motown the Musical tells the thrilling tale of the man who broke barriers, fought against the odds to create something more than a record label.

Discover the story behind Motown, the personal relationships, the professional struggles, and - of course - the music that made history, defined the sound of a generation and got the whole world moving to the same beat.

The London production of Motown the Musical continues to play to standing ovations at the Shaftesbury Theatre where it is about to enter its third year and is currently booking until the beginning of January next year.

With music and lyrics from the Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Charles Randolph-Wright’s production features a live orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’ll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It Through The Grapevine and tells the story behind the classic hits.

Berry Gordy said: “The UK has always been the gateway for Motown to the rest of the world.  

"While the West End production still continues to perform to great audiences, I’m thrilled that we are taking a second production of Motown the Musical to the rest of the UK.”

With just $800 borrowed from his family, Motown founder Berry Gordy, goes from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul, discovering and launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more.  

Motown the Musical uncovers the true story of the legendary record label that changed music history and created the soundtrack of a generation.   

Tony nominated Motown the Musical received its world premiere in April 2013 in New York and recouped its $18 million investment by the end of 2014.  The first US National Tour opened to critical acclaim in spring 2014 in Chicago, grossing $20 million dollars during its standing room only 16-week run, and continues to play to packed houses across America. 

Motown the Musical has music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Ethan Popp, co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Cook, dance arrangements by Zane Mark.  

Choreography is by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, costumes by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design  by Peter Hylenski, video by Daniel Brodie and Wig design by Charles Lapointe. Motown the Musical is produced in the UK by Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, Adam Spiegel and Berry Gordy.

Berry Gordy the founder of Motown nurtured the careers of,Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 and more.

Gordy is also a songwriter, producer, director, boxer, innovative entrepreneur, teacher and visionary.  

Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he also released the recorded speeches of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.  

His films include Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, which received five Academy Award nominations.

He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Pioneer Award, the Grammy Salute To Industry Icon’s President’s Merit Award and was honoured by President Barack Obama with a Salute to Motown evening at the White House.

His unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.

To book tickets from £17.90 click HERE.

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