Motown The Musical (

Reviewed by Alison Smith 
23rd July 2019

The audience of Motown The Musical is dazzled by the
clothes, the music, the choreography and the physicality and yet there is
something missing: a lack of emotion and feeling. I was wowed by the sheer
energy and talent of the cast, but the story line is thin, the dialogue poor -
and sometimes not audible. I wasn’t moved by Berry Gordy’s struggle to leave
the car production factory in Detroit, I didn’t care that the bands left BG for
better offers nor that Diana Ross left him. And when BG finally decided to go
to the 25 year celebration, it was no big deal – but did give another reason
for the full cast finale. The great triumph of Gordy – that he brought black
people and their music into the public consciousness at that time – cannot be
denied, and more needed to be made of his triumph in Motown The Musical.

However, the show is joyful and great for nostalgic, soul
music fans- Hitsville itself. From the outset the male dancers, perfectly in
step in their patent shoes and slick suits, perfectly in harmony in their
voices, are highlighted against a vivid background. The choice of songs was
successful – although I would have liked to hear fewer, yet complete, songs –
and the male groups – The Temptations and The Four Tops, capture the 60s
completely. Of course The Jackson Five, with the endearing and talented Daniel
Cort as the young Michael, won over the hearts of the audience. The stars –
Smokey Robinson (Nathan Lewis), Diana Ross (Karis Anderson ) and the amazing
Daniel Haswell as Stevie Wonder – have wonderful voices ,timing and charisma.
And the seemingly tireless Edward Baruwa as Berry Gordy, almost continuously on
stage, has  a voice, an energy and a
stage presence which are unforgettable.

Mention must also be made of the wonderful band under the
direction of Griff Johnson; their interpretation of such exuberant songs as Dancing in the Street, ABC, Please Mr Postman and I heard it
through the Grapevine
 symbolize the
essence of  the Legendary Motown

The set (David Korins) and the lighting (Natasha Katz) are
excellent throughout the musical – atmospheric and redolent of that era.

stage design is simple; the set is generally stark but with amazing
kaleidoscopic projection back drops and sliding panels, but the simple settings
offset the action and give the dancers plenty room to perform their precise

One lasting positive of Motown was the improvement of race
relations through the black music reaching a wide audience in the 60’s and 70’s
and, in a much smaller way, this musical showcases a talented group of young
black British singers and dancers. Let’s hope we see more of them more


Motown The Musical is at MK Theatre until Saturday 3rd

0844 877 7652

Booking fee applies