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Motown—The Musical on Broadway: Tickets, reviews and video

Berry Gordy's Broadway jukebox musical hit shows New York theater how he created some of America's greatest pop songs.

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

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Photograph: Joan Marcus

Motown—The Musical

Motown—The Musical on Broadway tickets

Buy Motown—The Musical tickets at Ticketmaster

Motown—The Musical on Broadway show information

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Book by Berry Gordy. Music and lyrics by various writers. Dir. Charles Randolph-Wright. With Brandon Victor Dixon, Valisia LeKae. 2hrs 40mins. One intermission.

Few catalogs in American pop music are as warmly loved as that of the Motown record company, which dominated the radio in the 1960s and 1970s with pop-soul hits by a roster that included the Supremes, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, the Jackson 5 and many more. Now, label founder Berry Gordy has written and coproduced an exuberant jukebox musical that chronicles the rise and fall of Motown, featuring snippets from more than 50 hit songs from the label. (Currently, Brandon Victor Dixon plays Gordy, opposite Tony nominees Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross and Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson.) The dialogue is hokey, the characters are thin, and Gordy’s take on history is decidedly self-serving—but the undeniable appeal of the music has made Motown a tourist sensation. As in Jersey Boys, the numbers are mostly performed by actors playing the original recording artists, rather than characters expressing themselves in song; it’s little more than a live version of one of those Time-Life oldies collections they market on TV. Delivered with panache by an exceptionally talented ensemble, however, it leaves the audience dancing into the street.—Adam Feldman

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Read our full review of Motown—The Musical and see detailed showtimes

Nominated in the 2013 Tony Awards. See our complete guide to the Tonys

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre: Information and map

Address
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
205 W 46th St
Midtown West
New York

Cross street
between Broadway and Eighth Ave

Phone
212-575-9200

Website
luntfontannetheatre.com

Transportation
Subway: A, C, E to 42nd St–Port Authority; N, Q, R to 42nd St S, 1, 2, 3, 7 to 42nd St–Times Sq
 
How to get to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Motown—The Musical on Broadway review

Motown—The Musical left my eyes tired. For half of the show, they were glued to the stage; for the other half, they rolled up in disbelief to the farthest reaches of their sockets. Rarely has a Broadway musical offered such extremes of talent and inanity. The mountains are thrillingly high: glorious snatches of more than 50 classic pop songs from the catalogs of such Motown artists as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations and the Jackson 5. But the valleys are abysmally low. The book sections of the show, in which Motown founder and Motown coproducer Berry Gordy Jr. traces 45 years of his own journey, is a compost heap of dubious history, wooden acting and risible dialogue—Little Berry: “I wanna be Joe Louis!” Pop: “Now son, there already is a Joe Louis. Just keep God inside you and be the best you you can be, and that will make me so proud”—all set beneath a flickering neon halo of self-hagiography.

Motown’s subject matter evokes comparison with the Supremes-inspired biomusical Dreamgirls, especially in its treatment of the sexual-professional relationship between Gordy (Dixon) and Diana Ross (LeKae). But it is closer in spirit to Baby It’s You!, the 2011 flop about girl-group impresario Florence Greenberg. What it has that the latter musical lacked is showmanship on a massive scale. Although the lead actors are hamstrung by Motown’s sub-rudimentary script and direction, the musical numbers set the theater on fire. Choreographed by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams—and bolstered by Esosa’s costumes, Natasha Katz’s lighting and Peter Hylenski’s sound—the show’s megamix of hits allows for scene-stealing cameos from members of one of the strongest ensembles I have seen on Broadway.

Standouts in the large cast include Saycon Sengbloh as Martha Reeves, N’Kenge as Mary Wells, Ryan Shaw as Stevie Wonder, Morgan James as Teena Marie, and Eric LaJuan Summers as Jackie Wilson, Rick James and Contours singer Billy Gordon—plus the delightful audience favorite Raymond Luke Jr. as a young Michael Jackson. (Jibreel Mawry plays the role at alternate performances.) What a grand night of entertainment this show could be if it junked its plot and just let these troupers work their magic. Motown’s constellation of secret stars, even in the background, shines brighter than the musical’s self-favored sun.—Adam Feldman

See Motown—The Musical showtimes

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

Buy Motown—The Musical tickets at Ticketmaster

Motown—The Musical opening night cast & crew

Brandon Victor Dixon as Berry Gordy
Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross
Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson
Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye
Charles Randolph-Wright - Director
Berry Gordy - Book
Patricia Wilcox - Choreography
Warren Adams - Choreography
David Korins - Scenic Design
ESosa - Costume Design
Natasha Katz - Lighting Design
Peter Hylenski - Sound Design
Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, Berry Gordy - Producers

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