Posted in based on a true story or event, bio-musical, musical theater, theater

“Stop in the name of love” and “Get ready”

Motown The Musical MUSICAL NEDERLANDER THEATRE 208 W. 41ST ST. MOTOWN THE MUSICAL - CAST Chester Gregory Chester Gregory as Berry Gordy Allison Semmes Allison Semmes as Diana Ross Jesse Nager Jesse Nager as Smokey Robinson Jarran Muse Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye Nik Alexander Nik Alexander as Dennis Edwards Nik Alexander Nik Alexander as Miracle Nik Alexander Nik Alexander as Mickey Stevenson Nik Alexander Nik Alexander as Commodore J.J. Batteast J.J. Batteast as Young Berry Gordy J.J. Batteast J.J. Batteast as Young Stevie Wonder J.J. Batteast J.J. Batteast as Young Michael Jackson Erick Buckley Erick Buckley as Jackie Wilson Manager Erick Buckley Erick Buckley as Harold Noveck Erick Buckley Erick Buckley as Studio Head Chante Carmel Chante Carmel as Edna Anderson Chante Carmel Chante Carmel as Martha Reeves Chante Carmel Chante Carmel as Marvelette Chadaé Chadaé as Anna Gordy Chadaé Chadaé as Marvelette Lynorris Evans Lynorris Evans as Temptation Lynorris Evans Lynorris Evans as Fuller Gordy Lynorris Evans Lynorris Evans as Contour Lynorris Evans Lynorris Evans as Jackson 5 Robert Hartwell Robert Hartwell as Temptation Robert Hartwell Robert Hartwell as Contour Robert Hartwell Robert Hartwell as Jackson 5 Robert Hartwell Robert Hartwell as Robert Gordy Trisha Jeffrey Trisha Jeffrey as Mary Wilson Trisha Jeffrey Trisha Jeffrey as Mother Gordy Elijah Ahmad Lewis Elijah Ahmad Lewis as Stevie Wonder Elijah Ahmad Lewis Elijah Ahmad Lewis as Levi Stubbs Elijah Ahmad Lewis Elijah Ahmad Lewis as Miracle Elijah Ahmad Lewis Elijah Ahmad Lewis as Jr. Walker Elijah Ahmad Lewis Elijah Ahmad Lewis as Allstar Loren Lott Loren Lott as Esther Gordy Loren Lott Loren Lott as Lula Hardaway Loren Lott Loren Lott as Vandella Loren Lott Loren Lott as Gladys Horton Jarvis B. Manning, Jr. Jarvis B. Manning, Jr. as Jackie Wilson Jarvis B. Manning, Jr. Jarvis B. Manning, Jr. as Contour Jarvis B. Manning, Jr. Jarvis B. Manning, Jr. as Eddie Hollan
Motown The Musical at the Nederlander with Allison Semmes as Diana Ross. Photo © Joan Marcus

Berry Gordy, Jr.’s career in music started when he sold a song to Jackie Wilson. It culminated when he sold the hit-making empire he built and named Motown to MCA in 1988. Motown artists and their images were carefully cultivated. Gordy co-wrote 240 songs for the catalog, which was bought by Polygram for over $330million in the early 1990s. Business aside, Gordy’s recording company became a legendary musical genre.

That musical style, the artists nurtured by the company, and its creator are celebrated in Motown-The Musical, based on Gordy’s memoir, To Be Loved, and written and produced by Berry Gordy, Jr.

Motown… had its original run in March of 2013, and is currently in revival at the Nederlander Theatre, and runnng through the end of this month.

Motown The Musical with Chester Gregory as Berry Gordy. Photo © Joan Marcus
Motown The Musical with
Chester Gregory
as Berry Gordy. Photo © Joan Marcus

In Motown…, the high-spirited portrayals of Gordy by Chester Gregory and the supreme Diana Ross by Allison Semmes enhance the bio-musical’s plotline, which relies a little too heavily on history for its backstory. Motown… is about the entertainers who gave us the  most recognizable sound of the 1960’s.

Mr. Gregory gives a well-balanced performance as “the Chairman,” Berry Gordy, Jr. An exhilirating highlight of the production is Ms. Semmes’ Ross in her first solo appearance in Las Vegas, a sequence that asks for a happy moment of audience participation.

Visit http://www.motownthemusical.com/ for tickets and more information.

 

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Posted in bio-musical, musical revivals, musical theater, Uncategorized

"Dancing In The Streets" at Motown The Musical: It’s Not Just Berry Gordy’s Memories

Motown The Musical is being revived this summer at the Nederlander Theatre, in previews now and running through November 13th.

Our Theater Blog: TandBOnTheAisle

There was a time when Detroit rolled out great big cars, and an even bigger sound. The music of the Motor City was humming in everyone’s ears, and playing “with a brand new beat” on and off the Billboard charts.

Berry Gordy’s memoirs turned into “Motown The Musical,” now at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre,  based on Gordy’s book To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown, are condensed to bring us up to the 25th Motown Reunion in 1983.  His Hitsville USA studios brought an exciting new formula to
pop music. Motown records was modeled after the assembly lines of Detroit automobile factories where Gordy had worked.

Berry Gordy, Jr.’s (Brandon Victor Dixon) glam vision added lavish costumes and complicated dance moves to the “short stories,” as he put, in the songs his writers created. Gordy gave each of his groups their own persona– “The Temptations,” “The…

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Posted in drama, family drama, play, theater

Talking turkey

First, Karam’s The Humans transferred from off-Broadway to Broadway, where it won the 2016 Tony as Best Play. Now, it is transferring to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The original review from December 2015 of the play when it first appeared at the Laura Pels is below:


Does it seem like dysfunctional is the new normal?

Stephen Karam’s The Humans, playing at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre through January 3rd, might have better been named Family Festivities, or At Home with Brigid and Rich –(two possible and still lame alternatives) –as it is, it is still more than worthy of our attention.

The people gathering at Brigid Blake’s (Sarah Steele) new duplex apartment in a Chinatown basement are there to celebrate Thanksgiving. Her live-in boyfriend, Richard Saad (Arian Moayed). who is doing the cooking, is contentedly overwhelmed by her clan and their rituals. As a backdrop to the goings-on, Grandma “Momo” (Lauren Klein) mutters dementedly and somewhat angrily throughout dinner.

To call the Blakes dysfunctional is perhaps overstating the case, although Brigid’s dad, Erik (Reed Birney) might be harboring a wretched secret, while her sister Aimee (Cassie Beck) is mourning a breakup from a bad relationship. Their mother, Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell) foists religion–not so good-naturedly– on her children. It’s easy to relate to Karam’s family drama with its sense of familiarity.

Although I find that The Humans is an off-putting name for a play, at least for this play, this is just a quibble. The Humans is engaging and well-written.

Joe Mantello gives the afternoon, and its aftermath, in The Humans a leisurely naturalistic pace. David Zinn’s two-tier staging makes The Humans feel both expansive and claustrophobic in its confinement.

The production is “Broadway-esque” and Broadway-worthy, and headed for the “great white way” in 2016.

The ensemble are luminous, with Houdyshell, Steele, and Birney stand-outs in an outstanding cast.

To find out more about The Humans,  please visit The Roundabout website.