BWW Reviews: MotorCity Magic-The Next Best Vegas Lounge Revue You'll See!
Guiding a group of harmonious singers and a kick-ass band in their re-creation of past Motown hits, producer/director Michael Yorkell has transformed The Laguna Playhouse into a lively Las Vegas lounge. At a compact ninety minutes, MotorCity Magic - A Musical Journey Through the Motown Years contains all the prerequisite elements ideal for a Vegas venue. No set needed except the essential band platforms and microphone stands. The proscenium collage of Motown album covers could easily be reproduced on flats behind the band or projected onto the back wall in between the existing video clips of the original artists. The encouraged audience participation (singing-along and dancing) would be enhanced by the drink minimums required; as the Laguna Playhouse did allow lidded liquid refreshments brought into the theatre. One could readily close their eyes and reminisce on note-for-note covers of some R&B oldies-but-goodies like Signed, Sealed, & Delivered; Cloud 9; I Can't Help Myself, (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).
The male singers (Arthur Jefferson, Donald McCall, Denny Mendes, and Steven Wood) who all sing harmonizing back-up with syncing choreography, each have their moments to shine in their individual lead spotlights. McCall, with his clear falsetto evoking Smokey Robinson, uses it to great effect in Get Ready, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Can't Get Next to You. Wood's rich bass voice gets a workout in Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Ball of Confusion. Jefferson impresses with Standing in the Shadows of Love. Me and Mrs. Jones receives a sexy duet between the silky stylings of Mendes and the hot sax of Rodney Caron. So nice!
Evelyn Dillion makes full opportunity to fiercely and successfully channel Aretha (Respect, ((You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman), Martha Reeves (Heat Wave, Dancing in the Streets), and Gladys Knight (Neither One of Us). Her Diana Ross (Can't Hurry Love, Baby Love, Stop in the Name of Love), however, is too fierce to be completely spot-on.
Besides the incredible Caron on sax (and flute); the MotorCity Magic Band features Don Chilton on trumpet, David Boudah on guitar, Pat Jennings on keyboards, and on spectacular drums--musical director Richard "The Power Station" Marshall.
With minimal dialogue, like a jukebox going from one 45 to the next; these talented performers get the audience on their feet clapping, singing along, and dancing. And isn't that what's a good Vegas lounge act supposed to do?
Photos by MotorCity Magic