Berry Gordy Jr.'s Autobiographical MOTOWN Musical Gathers Creative Team


Kevin McCollum and Doug Morris will co-produce MOTOWN on Broadway next year, according to Michael Riedel in the New York Post. The musical is a biographical jukebox musical using the story and Motown hit catalogue of Berry Gordy Jr.. Charles Randolph-Wright will direct.

"Gordy’s wanted to do MOTOWN (the show’s Working Title) on Broadway for years. Since he’ll be 83 in November, he’s telling everyone, 'Let’s Get It On!'" writes Riedel.

In May, BroadwayWorld reported that Berry Gordy Jr. was developing a Broadway project to "preserve his legacy".

Writers in consideration for the show are Suzan-Lori Parks and Katori Hall.

In 1957, Gordy discovered The Miracles (originally known as The Matadors) and began building a portfolio of successful artists. In 1959, at Miracles leader Smokey Robinson's encouragement, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to create an R&B label, Tamla Records. On January 21, 1959, "Come To Me" by Marv Johnson was issued as Tamla 101. United Artists Records picked up "Come To Me" for national distribution, as well as Johnson's more successful follow-up records.

Berry's next release was the only 45 ever issued on his Rayber label, and it featured Wade Jones with an unnamed female back-up group. The record did not sell well and is now one of the rarest issues from the Motown stable. Berry's third release was "Bad Girl" by The Miracles, and was the first-ever release for the Motown record label. "Bad Girl" was a solid hit in 1959 after Chess Records picked it up. Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)" initially appearing on Tamla and then charted on Gordy's sister's label, Anna Records, in February 1960. The Miracles' hit "Shop Around" peaked at #1 on the national R&B charts in late 1960 and at #2 on the Billboard pop charts on January 16, 1961 (#1 Pop, Cash Box), which established Motown as an independent company worthy of notice. Later in 1961, The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" made it to the top of both charts.

Producer Kevin McCollum was behind such Broadway productions as Rent (1996), Avenue Q (2004), In the Heights (2008), Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party (2000), Baz Luhrmann's production of Puccini’s La Bohème (2002) The Drowsy Chaperone (2006), High Fidelity (2006), White Christmas (2008), title of show (2008), and West Side Story (2009).

Read Riedel's article here.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

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