Opening night of "Motown The Musical" hosted by the DCPA at Buell Theater was a delight for people of all ages to enjoy. We know a lot of people say that, but it's true. We were seated next to two older gentlemen getting a kick out of all the references to highlights of their own lives and seeing some of their favorite tunes come to life. Behind us, a girl no older than 10 wiggled around in her seat along with the dance numbers with a smile bigger than her mother’s seated next to her. It was everything we wanted in a musical and would recommend this one to everyone. Hurry over as the show only runs through Sunday the 19th before the magical "Circus 1903" takes the stage on February 21st!
The story of Berry Gordy, creator of Motown, begins in 1938 in Detroit where Gordy feels defeated by the music industry and not getting enough credit for the hits that he is writing. His solution? Start a recording company and compete to your best ability. Gordy ends up launching the careers of Motown legends Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and many more. This musical performs all of their hits arranged alongside their stories acted out onstage.
The show not only covers Gordy’s personal life, but the rise of the young Diana Ross and a very politically charged and racially divided past, specifically through Gordy and his artists' struggles in the music industry. An essential piece to making a story come to life is the characters and the actors that play them. So trust us when we say it came to life with this cast. Allison Semmes as Diana Ross, is a dream, and the whole cast was wonderful when it came to portraying the personas of Motown hotshots on the come up. Seeing characters like Marvin Gaye and Rick James come to life through hilarious mannerisms, angelic singing voices, funky dance moves, and great costumes was a wonderful way to spend a Wednesday night.
Diana Ross’s debut in the song “Reach Out And Touch” was an interactive piece where two audience members joined Semmes (Ross) in singing the song, while the crowd was asked to hold hands and sway. Definitely the cheesiest part, but after experiencing the whole thing, we all felt like a Motown family, haha! Grooving to songs like “Do You Love Me”, “My Girl”, and “Brick House” reminded everyone in the room of not only some of our favorite songs, but also the man behind them and the struggles he endured to make “black music” into popular music. This production also reminded us, as I’m sure it did many others, that our country is in a similar state of social and political disorder, but proved there are ways to remind folks of that while also bringing them together. And that's how Motown was born!
denvercenter.org Review by Lina Skrzypczak