Motown: The Musical recalls the musical magic of the ‘60s and the legacy of a generation, writes James Higgins
With over 66 songs, Motown: The Musical does not short-change the legacy of this astounding record label. With hits from Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five and The Temptations, Motown changed the sound of the 20th century and this impressive UK tour captures the magical music that united listeners around the world.
The musical received favourable reviews when it debuted on Broadway in 2013. It first debuted in the UK in 2016 and its tour of the country commenced last year. But critics have agreed, whatever shortcomings there are in the plot, Motown: The Musical makes it up with powerhouse performances of some of the label’s best-known hits.
The musical starts in 1983 with the label’s founder, Berry Gordy, reflecting on the origins of Motown at a 25th anniversary party for the label. With a stream of flashbacks and appearances from some of Motown’s biggest stars, Berry is reminded of the label’s enduring legacy. With $800 borrowed from his family, Berry Gordy changed the face of modern music.
Established in Detroit America’s motor town, Motown went on to produce the songs that filled the airwaves and reigned supreme for over a decade. For such a small label, it achieved the phenomenal success of scoring 79 top-10 records from 1960 to 1969.
There are almost too many hits to mention but classic songs like My Girl, What’s Going On, Dancing in the Street, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough are given special attention in a script that packs in the feel-good hits.
Motown was, and is, so much more than a hit machine and the musical recalls the racial barriers that stood in the way of the label’s success. It was a label that rested on the personal relationships, professional struggles, and seismic cultural changes that defined a generation.
When: January 10–February 2, from £15