Motown the Musical ★★★★★
It’s always fun in theatre when a long-running show undergoes a cast change and Motown was no different. Last night (6th March) was exactly that.
Set in the era of JFK, Martin Luther King and the race riots, Motown tells the story of Berry Gordy (Jay Perry) and the legacy he created. Motown. Set in Detroit around the 1960's the show starts off with The Four Tops and the Temptations battling it out in a rehearsal space, the pace was fast and the voices and moves were like you were watching the real thing forgetting that this was set years ago, you were transported right back in time.
With the whole show being a flashback and set up to the Motown 25th Anniversary show I felt the cast did well to fit in with the era.
Perry did such a great job of portraying the father of Motown, his enthusiasm, voice and passion came across, such stage presence and when he sings his solo ‘To be loved‘, the whole audience was mesmerised.
The show featured heavily on the romance between Gordy and Diana Ross (Natalie Kassanga), who, although was strong in voice, unfortunately, lacked the ability to portray Diana Ross in her entirety. I found Kassanga a little forced at times when delivering her lines and I also found myself cringing in my chair and some line deliveries, especially when the main romance scene came up between the two. However, no one can deny this lady can sing, her voice filled the room like an opera singer and when she was singing you could forget the acting that came before it.
During the show, we meet a lot of Motown singers including Smokey Robinson (David Albury), who helped to set up Motown with Gordy. Albury does well to portray Robinson and show the friendship between the two men.
When they first met, Robinson had already heard of Gordy and he wanted to be with him, work with him, the two had chemistry as best friends and this never faded, Albury’s constant willingness to help his best friend never left his character.
The brand new cast were amazing, for their first show I was surprised to see how much chemistry they had between them, even the kid they used for young Berry, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, (Cruz Lee-Ojo) was out of this world, now I get that’s a weird way to describe someone but for someone so young he came on with such confidence and sang just like the best of them, the audience want crazy for Lee-Ojo, cheering and whistling and I didn’t blame them, it was like watching little Michael Jackson live.
Motown is currently playing at the Shaftesbury theatre and the new cast are in for a year. I highly recommend this show to anyone who enjoys the sounds of Motown … or just good music in general.