The Oriental Theatre this morning was abuzz with anticipation of the official word that the highly acclaimed "Motown the Musical" is coming to Chicago. This morning's press conference confirmed the cast and when the production will begin. April 22 through July 13, Chicago will be home to Berry Gordy's hit musical.
Berry Gordy, with fellow producer Kevin McCollum (Tony Award winner "Rent" 1996), reminisced on the Motown era and introduced the pool of media professionals to the cast members. Gordy fondly talked of his beginnings when he filmed the iconic fashion ladened movie "Mahogany" on the south side of Chicago starring music legend Diana Ross and charismatic pretty boy Billy Dee Williams.
Chicago has long been dubbed the Gospel music capital of America and what's really amazing is that a lot of the hitmakers of Motown were preacher's kids and church singers. Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye are examples of gospel going secular. Despite the struggle, of church versus the "world", many found their home in Hitsville.
Opening night, April 2013, on Broadway in New York, many of the legendary music icons, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and others, attended and were blown away so much so that Berry Gordy said they "cried" because of the memories evoked by the awesome performances. Director Charles Randolph-Wright, well known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Ruined" at Arena Stage, selected some of the nations top thespians to help bring to fruition the passion and realness to the roles (listen here to the cast perform Martha Reeves and the Vandella's "Dancing In The Streets"). Clifton Oliver led the cast as Berry Gordy and Allison Semmes portrays the lead singer of the Supremes and Berry's love interest, Diana Ross. Smokey Robinson, Gordy's partner and top producer for Motown, was characterized by actor Nicholas Christopher. Actor Jarran Muse embodies the "Got To Give It Up" and "Sexual Healing" crooner Marvin Gaye. Motown the Musical would not be complete without paying homage to the biggest music legend to ever live, Michael Jackson, portrayed by young actors Leon Outlaw, Jr. and Reed L. Shannon (who will also portray Berry Gordy as a youth and young Stevie Wonder).
Courtesy of Motown the Musical