Thursday, 10 March 2016

Review: Motown The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Motown The Musical 
Shaftesbury Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 9th March 2016

Having premiered on Broadway three years ago, Motown The Musical has found its way to London's West End. The musical features a whopping fifty Motown songs, a glorious orchestra and a hard working ensemble of performers.

The show's book - written by Berry Gordy, founder of the Motown record label - may have been revised for the London run, but feels clunky and a little lost. Motown is advertised as "telling the story behind the classic hits", but fails to give an interesting behind-the-scenes insight. 

I can't begin to imagine what actually happened behind closed doors in the 60s as Motown changed the music world forever, and after watching this show we are no closer to finding out. The piece dabbles in and out of Gordy's relationship with Diana Ross and delves a little into the producer's work with the likes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. 

In many ways the story is completely irreverent; Motown simply provides the perfect excuse to throw some of the greatest music of all time into one show.

Songs such as Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It through the Grapevine are utterly timeless - from the second you hear the first beat of each song you want to dance, sway and sing along. I think I knew pretty much every lyric to every number. 

Cedric Neal leads the cast triumphantly as Berry Gordy, starring opposite Lucy St. Louis whose performance of Diana Ross grows beautifully throughout the show. St. Louis has some entrancing moments of vocal magic. 

Elsewhere understudy Jordan Shaw gave a tremendous performance as Marvin Gaye, taking to the stage with charm and charisma - his smooth vocals proved very popular with the lively audience. The rest of the company are superb, playing various iconic stars throughout. All the solo lines are sung with such flair - there were too many stand out moments to mention.

Motown The Musical is a fun night out. If you grew up with this music and fancy reliving the soundtrack to your youth then you will have a fabulous evening. Despite the troubled book, Charles Randolph-Wright's production provides an enjoyable evening's entertainment.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Motown The Musical is booking at the Shaftesbury Theatre to 18th February 2017.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir

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