BWW Interviews: Reed Shannon of MOTOWN National Tour

By: Feb. 02, 2015

Coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center from February 17th-22th is the national touring production of Motown: The Musical featuring Reed Shannon in the roles of Young Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson.

Reed has appeared in productions of The Who's Tommy, In the Heights, Oliver!, and Les Misérables at North Carolina Theatre. You can learn more about him at

JK: To start things off, do you remember your first introduction to the music of Motown?

RS: Well, I don't remember exactly when I knew it was Motown, but I remember when we would go on trips, we'd play it in the car. Like at Christmas, we would play Christmas Motown. All the time, there would be Motown all around me.

JK: So how did the opportunity come about for you to audition for the musical?

RS: When I was 12 years old, I looked up online an audition for Motown, and there was one that was a week away on Friday the 13th. It was an open call, and I asked my parents if I could go, and they said yes, but only if I do good in school. I did, and so they took me to the auditions where there was over 700 people there. I auditioned, then I waited. They called back to go to New York again for a Michael Jackson workshop.

JK: I guess that Friday the 13th must've been a real lucky day for you?

RS: Yes, it was. After that audition, they asked me to do a video audition for the Michael Jackson workshop.

JK: When did you find out that you got cast?

RS: We were in Harlem the day after the Michael Jackson workshop. I performed in front of Mr. Gordy, then they called my dad's phone and asked if I could be in the national tour. Of course I said yes.

JK: How does it feel for you to be playing three different music icons (Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson) at such a young age?

RS: It feels really amazing because I get to show the love of what my generation can bring to the table, so that the older people who were listening to the music when it was out know we understand the story. It's really breathtaking that I get to play and meet two of the three icons.

JK: What was it like to meet both Mr. Gordy and Mr. Wonder?

RS: I didn't pass out, but I was on the edge of it. It was amazing! We met Mr. Gordy many times in Chicago and Detroit where I also met Mr. Wonder. Mr. Gordy is one of the nicest human beings on Earth and Mr. Wonder is the most hilarious non-comedian out there!

JK: What a wonder!

RS: Yes.

JK: So what are you enjoying most about traveling around the country doing this show so far?

RS: Meeting all the people is really, really great! I meet different people in every different city and I make connections for when I go somewhere else.

JK: Since you're a child actor, you don't necessarily go on all the time. What do you normally do on nights when you don't have to go on?

RS: I still have to be at the theatre in case of an emergency involving the other boy in the show. I basically just sit around and wait for the other boy to go onstage. I play on my computer, I read a book sometimes. Then on one of the days on the weekends, I have school.

JK: For a kid your age, how are you able to keep up with performing four times a week?

RS: I think it's the passion that keeps me going. I have my parents with me, and I'm glad that they discipline me enough so I could sleep. If I didn't, I would be up all the time.

JK: You were trained at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory, what was your experience like there? Any special memories?

RS: All my memories are from there! The first time I had a solo in the group, I made friends that I'm gonna have for the rest of my life. My whole life is right there! The teachers basically taught me everything I know.

JK: It must be a second home for you.

RS: Yeah, it's great being home!

JK: As you're growing up, are there any dream roles you'd love to pursue in the future?

RS: Not that I know of. I mean, if somebody brings something to me and I like it, I guess I'll go for it. But there's no certain role that I'd like to do yet. I guess I would like to go on and do TV and movies, but I would also like to do Broadway in New York.

JK: Sometimes, the dream roles may find you rather than you finding them.

RS: Right.

JK: Is there any advice you would like to give any kids out there wanting to pursue a career in the theatre?

RS: Definitely keep on training. Get as much experience in shows as possible, because it will all pay off when you get a role. Also, to keep on doing school.

JK: Reed, I thank you very much for devoting your time to this interview, and I wish you the best of luck with Motown!

RS: Thank you so much!

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