A visit to Motown the Musical, now playing at the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago, makes you feel current and retro at the same time. Celebrating the legacy of Berry Gordy (who was at the star studded red carpet opening night festivities), who came from humblest of beginnings, only to develop the music industry's most iconic record label ever. Motown records has nurtured the careers, the likes of Diana Ross and the Supremes; Smokey Robinson; Stevie Wonder; Gladys Knight; Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5; Marvin Gaye; Mary Wells; and many others along the way. Berry Gordy was the supreme contributor to this iconic label, and his life, loves, journey, both triumphs and tribulations, are portrayed vividly onstage in this production.
And he was there onstage, at show's finale, seeming larger than life, along with longtime friend Smokey Robinson, and extraordinary script consultants David Goldsmith and Dick Scanlan; and magnificent choreographers Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams. Detroit, affectionately known as Motor City, is how Motown got its name, a fact revealed in this story. The performer playing Diana Ross (Allison Semmes) interacted with the audience in a high energy tribute to the song, "Reach Out and Touch," almost straight out of a true to life Vegas concert.
The ingenuity and wide spread talent was at the forefront of this show, with amazingly credulous renditions of songs by pop artists, a young Michael Jackson (Leon Outlaw Jr; and Reed L. Shannon); Smokey Robinson (Nicholas Christopher); Stevie Wonder (Elijah Ahmad Lewis); Marvin Gaye (Jarran Muse); and the legend Berry Gordy himself (Clifton Oliver).
In every scene and number, one can visualize the colors and vibrancy of the music and lyrics. This was a high powered 'touchy-feely' tribute to a bygone era with music that will resonate for all generations to come.
Through August 9th Tuesdays, 730 PM; Wednesdays 2 and 730 PM; Thursdays 730PM; Fridays 730PM; Saturdays 2 and 8 PM; Sundays 2 PM.
Oriental Theatre 24 W Randolph St
tickets: www.broadwayinchicago.com (800) 775-2000