BWW Review: MOTOWN THE MUSICAL at Times Union Center

BWW Review: MOTOWN THE MUSICAL at Times Union Center

Motown the Musical is a musical unlike any other. The history of Motown Records takes place between 1957 and 1983. Audience members will recognize the music whether they were a part of this time period or not. I was born in 1996 and went into the production not knowing the history of Motown Records, but I could name a number of the songs included. On the other hand, there were audience members who were singing along to the entire musical and remembered moments from it. As an audience member who did not know the history of Motown, the production opened my eyes to the impact the music has had. A musical that brings generations together through music, history, and unity of humankind.

Berry Gordon, played by Kenneth Mosley, was spectacular. My first thought to Mosley's performance was he portrayed Gordon as a voice behind the iconic voices, but Mosely's voice was just as memorable. Mosley performed with such strength and stamina through the entire production. His "Can I Close the Door (On Love)?" was breathtaking and pulled the entire show together. Not only were his singing abilities phenomenal, but Mosley's stage presence was astounding. The moment he walked on stage, the audience knew Berry Gordon was the boss and would do anything to make Motown Records a success. Mosley also had an incredible sense of wit. He made his witty comebacks so natural, such as the scene in the Bahamas where he continues to get phone calls and hangs up with "Bye, Smokey!"

Another extraordinary talent was Trenyce who played Diana Ross. Trenyce entered the stage a meek and timid girl who wanted to make her singing dreams come true. As she progressed through the production, she truly conveyed a girl growing up in the industry and into her career. Trenyce's ability to captivate the audience was astounding. She adapted the qualities of Diana Ross flawlessly. I heard audience members around me saying she sounded and acted exactly like Diana Ross. She was also the only character who could put Gordon in his place and did it in a sassy and fabulous way. The most notable moment for Trenyce was Diana Ross's debut concert. Not only was her performance remarkable, but her ability to break the third wall and invite audience members into the Motown world as if it were 1970. Audience members came down and sang "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" while Trenyce continued to portray Diana Ross. When Trenyce returned to the stage, she continued to include her audience asking them to hold hands with the person sitting next to and sing along. The entire Moran Theatre erupted in singing and joy and brought the audience together in the most extraordinary way.

In addition to these two characters, there were various talented actors who contributed so much to the story of Motown. Smokey Robinson, played by Justin Reynolds, had an amazing voice and captivated audience with his humor and positivity. Stevie Wonder, played by Cartreeze Tucker, brought the audience together in the finale. Everyone clapped and danced along with the rest of the cast. Marvin Gaye was also a notable character, played by Matt Manuel. He brought humor in serious moments but was also wise and willing to stand up to Gordon when all was falling apart.

Also, the screens played a significant part in the production. They helped distinguish locations for the audience, but also made the audience feel they were a part of the concert arenas. I loved seeing the original Motown 25th Anniversary on the screens while the characters were all on stage.

Motown the Musical proved that music unites people from every generation and backgrounds.

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From This Author Jordan Higginbotham

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