Theatrical Review: “Motown the Musical”

I’m SO excited to announce to you that The Navi Review will soon kick off a new lifestyle page! The blog is expanding, so now you can come here to find the latest on FOOD from across the nation, THEATRICAL REVIEWS and a Life & Style section that will feature advice and discussion topics from The Valerie Miller, Certified Conscious Coach and author of How I Became Fabulous: And a Lady All the Time. Until the new page is up, I’ll post the Life & Style reviews here on the main page. I’ll alert you all when the new page is a go and move all of those reviews then from the home page to their own page. 🙂

As the first of so many new theatrical reviews, I present to you “Motown the Musical.”

 

My viewing – Baltimore, Maryland April 15, 2018

Review: “Motown the Musical” (5 stars)

When: Through June 28, 2018

Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Based off Barry Gordy’s book To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown, “Motown” is a celebratory musical that incorporates nearly 60 of the musical hits that shaped and defined an entire generation. It’s a spirited, energetic tribute to the founder of Motown, Barry Gordy, and his struggles, trials and triumphs experienced over the years as he ushered in a new era of music. You know the sounds. You’ve sung them, danced to them – his artists are forever ingrained in pop culture. But, more than that, “Motown the Musical” is a tribute to all those who came before us—of the 40s through the 80s—who paved the way for the musicians we know and love today, for the sounds in the air and the musical collaborations that now shape our generation.

In this musical, you’ll be touched by the coverage of the Civil Rights Movement and the moments that reminisce on the Golden Days of musical phenom groups such as The Jackson 5, The Supremes, The Temptations and more so many more. Under the direction of Charles Randolph-Wright, this musical is a nostalgic journey with a first act climax that’ll knock your socks off and stop your heart.

“Motown’s” central roles have been recast since the last time you saw them, now staring Kenneth Mosley as the intense musical genius Barry Gordy, Grammy-nominated singer/actress from “American Idol Season 2”, Trenyce, as the saucy powerhouse Diana Ross, and Justin Reynolds as Gordy’s longtime friend, the legend Smoky Robinson. Now would be a good time to go ahead and note that Trenyce was everything. For me, she was Diana Ross. Her personality blazed through, creating an almost larger-than-life central star up there on that stage. She combined a sultry purr with a flirtatious vivaciousness and wore the role of Diana Ross like a perfectly matched glass slipper. It all gravitated around her in some way; certainly, I did. Kenneth Moseley broods with a fierce intensity as Barry Gordy and Justin Reynolds brilliantly showcased Smoky Robinson’s personality and smooth, playful persona that made him the star he was in his days at Motown.

Now that “Motown the Musical” is a non-equity tour, which means that you’re mostly getting fresh faces with very few major credits to their names, it’s become an opportunity for new talent to emerge in the ranks and put their voices on full display (no pun intended). And, let’s not forget that because this musical features ensemble roles—Most of the star turns  like the Four Tops, Commodores, Jackson Five, the Temptations, the Marvelettes and several others are ensemble roles—these actors were singing and dancing, not to mention acting, a number of different roles and styles throughout the nearly three hours. One actor may play as many as three or more separate roles, so for them to be able to bring each one to life with such vivacity and believability  was a joy to watch. For this cast, that feat was easily surmounted.

What I haven’t spoken on yet is the vocals, which were pure magic. “Motown” puts some of the most talented up-and-coming voices on a stage together – much as Motown itself did in its day. Some of the most memorable performances were Matt Manuel’s “What’s Going On” as Marvin Gaye and Kenneth Mosley’s closing number. But the highlight, and what I will always remember from that stage and those players, was the moving and emotional medley around the assassinations of JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Those moments will stay with me always.

 

Tour Schedule (for the remainder of the tour)

Lexington, KY Apr. 27 – Apr. 29, 2018 @ Lexington Opera House

Wilmington, DE May 01 – May 06, 2018 @ The Playhouse on Rodney Square

North Charleston, SC May 08 – May 09, 2018 @ North Charleston Performing Arts Center

Waterbury, CT May 11 – May 13, 2018 @ Palace Theater

Toronto, ON May 22 – Jun. 3, 2018 @ Princess of Wales Theatre

Detroit, MI Jun. 5 – Jun. 10, 2018 @ Fisher Theatre

Boston, MA Jun. 12 – Jun. 17, 2018 @ Boston Opera House

Montreal, QC Jun. 19 – Jun. 24, 2018 @ Place des Arts

Vienna, VA Jun. 26 – Jun. 28, 2018 @ Wolf Trap

 

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