Motown The Musical has finally arrived on Broadway. And Like the Joe Louis fight that inspired a young Berry Gordy, the hits keep coming. So much so that at the end of the first act I was exhausted. This show is like riding a bullet train of soul and pop music with only 2 stops, intermission and the end.
Motown tells the story of Berry Gordy and his creation of Motown Records. We see Mr. Gordy grow from child to man with the other main characters of the story being Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. But this is really Mr. Gordy's story. We see his business drive and failed relationship with Ms. Ross, all accompanied by the great songs of Motown. But let's not kid here, the real main character is the music, and the story takes a back seat to all the music that has been put into this show. We are talking 60+ songs! While they may not perform the complete song for each number, my head was getting dizzy just trying to keep up with what song was being performed and by whom. The super talented ensemble would switch between the Four Tops, the Temptations, the Miracles, the Commodores, Marvelettes, the Supremes, Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Rick James...you get the idea. There are a lot of songs being performed in this show, in so much that the story kind of gets lost.
Performance-wise everyone was right on point, pouring their heart , soul and sweat into each and every number. A standout, if there was one, was Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross. Ms. LeKae is a tiny firecracker of a performer with and explosive voice and a sweetness that draws you in. Another standout was Mr. Brandon Victor Dixon portraying Berry Gordy who was commanding on stage and show stopping in his Torch Song during the second act.
Technically I have to mention the set design which was thoughtfully done. It was reminiscent of period album covers and flowed flawlessly from scene to scene. There did seem to be some audio level issues with some of the group numbers, but I am sure those will be fixed by the time the show officially opens.
This is a good show and journey through the music of Motown. In my opinion what will make this a great show will be to edit some of the songs out or down and have more peaks and valleys in the show, it felt that the show was going full blast the whole time without a chance for the audience to catch a breath. But for those who love the music of Motown, this will be a treat for your ears and eyes, a veritable hit parade. The stars of the past come alive before your eyes in their prime to perform their greatest hits live on Broadway.