Written By: Madison Harden
Some of the fondest memories I have from my childhood are of my dad singing “My Girl” by The Temptations in a low, soulful voice, as he danced around the kitchen and got all of my family members to join in. Loud, joyful laughter and off-key notes filled the air, and our hands often hurt from how loudly we clapped along. This memory is perhaps the best way I can capture the atmosphere that Motown: The Musical provides its audience. I was in no way expecting to feel transported right back to my home when I sat down in a red plush seat of London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, but that’s exactly what happened.
Motown: The Musical showcases the roots of one of the most well-known record companies, which was founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy, Jr. Coming from a humble background, his love of music and song-writing allowed both his career and his company to skyrocket. He saw talent and stardom in the most modest of people, and with his guidance artists like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, and Stevie Wonder were able to make a name for themselves in a world that was all too ready to shut them out.
The cast was extremely talented, adeptly capturing the mood of 1960s Detroit. It is already difficult to portray a character real-time on stage, and it is even harder to portray a character that was once alive, well-known, and loved by the audience. The performance was captivating, with the actors absolutely nailing the Motown score. Every voice, characteristic, and mannerism was perfected in such a way that it felt as if I were watching a real concert instead of a West End show. Each cast member really brought these legends to life.
Besides the incredible singing and dancing, the atmosphere was another highlight. The audience is bound to have fun watching this show, and will even be sad to see the curtain close and lights flare on again.The biggest theme of Motown: The Musical is that music serves to bring everyone together, no matter your skin color, background, sexual orientation, or beliefs. The show itself proves just that. The cast brings people on stage to sing with them, encourages the audience to sing and dance along, and at one point they have the entire audience hold hands and sway as Diana Ross’s character belts out the beautiful “Reach Out and Touch.”