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Review Roundup: MOTOWN Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!


MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL opens tonight, April 14, 2013, at Broadway's The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (205 West 46 Street). Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL features a book by Berry Gordy and music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue.

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL's creative team features choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Tony Award nominee ESosa, lighting design by Tony Award winner Natasha Katz, sound design by Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski, and projection design by Daniel Brodie.

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL features arrangements and orchestrations by Ethan Popp, who will also serve as musical supervisor for the 18 piece orchestra and reproduce the classic "Sound of Young America" for the Broadway stage, with co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Crook, dance arrangements by Zane Mark and music direction by Joseph Joubert.

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. Let's see what the critics had to say...

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: For all the richness of its gold-and-platinum-plated soundtrack, "Motown" would be a much more satisfying nostalgia trip if Mr. Gordy and his collaborators were more effective curators of both story and song, rather than trying to encompass the whole of the label's fabled history in two and a half hours. Irresistible as much of the music is, I often had the frustrating impression that I was being forced to listen to an LP being played at the dizzying, distorting speed of a 45.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The 2 1/2-hour show, about Motown Records under founder Berry Gordy, opened Sunday at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre completely unbalanced: The songs are staggering, the book utterly flimsy. Both are due to one man: Gordy, who clearly knows what makes an indelible hit song, but also has an inability to write objectively about that skill. As the book writer, Gordy comes across almost divine, a true visionary who literally changed the world and race relations but was eventually abandoned by the artists he made stars when they sought to cash in. There are parts of the show that even a North Korean dictator would find excessively flattering.

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: It's when the music stops that things get awkward. Gordy's book is thwarted not so much by his egotism - which is at least honest, and mitigated somewhat by self-effacing jokes - as his banality. Played by the excellent Brandon Victor Dixon, Gordy reflects on his struggles and triumphs, and dispenses advice, with a ham-handed earnestness that can suggest a speech to business students or self-help book more than a human being expressing himself.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: You can't hurry love, but apparently you can hurtle through 25 years of pop history without depth or complexity if Motown: The Musical is any indication. With its narrowly self-serving perspective and simplistic connect-the-dots plotting, Berry Gordy's book makes Jersey Boys look like Eugene O'Neill. And Charles Randolph-Wright's direction struggles to get a fluid handle on the music empire founder's superficial chronicle of his legendary Detroit hit factory. But there's no denying the power and energy of the show's arsenal of killer tunes.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: There's no shortage of great tunes from which to choose. And if a batch of catchy classics with tasty harmonies and cool grooves like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Stop in the Name of Love," "My Girl" and "ABC" were enough to make a jukebox musical click, the show would be an automatic hit. But it takes more. While the music catalog runs deep, the story is shallow. The book, penned by Gordy, who also produced the show, suffers from being sketchy, earnest and sometimes corny.

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