Motown the Musical at King's Theatre, Glasgow
With a catalogue of hits heavier than a 1980s phone book to choose from, the creators of Motown the Musical were surely onto a winner when they decided to write a show covering the first 25 years of this iconic record label. But musical theatre is more than just music and the modern theatregoer has set a high standard for their musical entertainment.

The pedigree of the songbook is irrefutable with hits across the alphabet from The Jacksons' "ABC" to Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" and 60 songs in between from artists such as Diana Ross, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder and, of course, Marvin Gaye.

The story of the rise and fall of Motown is set against a backdrop of racial unrest in the US across the 60s and 70s with the conclusion of the show set at Motown's 25th anniversary celebrations in 1984. With such powerful inspiration for music of black origin across this era, it is easy to relate these pieces to their time either as protest or escapism. Sadly, the story of the show makes little reference to this rich backdrop; focussing instead on Gordy's passion for his company and his failing relationships with his wife and, later, with Diana Ross.

The presentation of the show is incredibly slick with very smooth scene changes enabled by full height electronic screen sliders moving effortlessly into place with co-ordinated full colour images giving an impressive light show as well as providing practical scenery. Designer, David Korins, did not skimp on the budget! Ethan Popp's smart musical arrangements were another key ingredient as this huge score involved a great deal of mashing and merging.

On stage, Edward Baruwa, presented a likable Berry Gordy but, while there was little mention of the 8 children the man fathered via 6 relationships in this period, Mr Baruwa was a little unconvincing as the womanising CEO. His passion for the company came through in several key moments, though, and his singing voice did not disappoint. Karis Anderson was an ideal choice as Diana Ross. Close your eyes and you could almost be transported in time to hear Diana Ross at her peak. Nathan Lewis and Shak Gabbidon-Williams delivered well in their roles as sidekick, Smokey Robinson, and the inimitable Marvin Gaye.

I'm sorry to say that the whole cast had to dig deep into their reserves of professionalism as the Glasgow audience were incredibly poorly behaved. Sadly the noisy distractions from the audience were alcohol fuelled. The worst audience I have ever had the displeasure to be a part of. The cast are to be lauded for their commitment to their art.

This is a great show with an incredible score. The book is a little one-sided regarding this period of history but the cast will have you gripped from start to finish.

Motown the Musical
King's Theatre Glasgow
Tue 29 October - Sat 16 November 2019
Mon - Sat evenings 7.30pm
Wed & Sat matinees 2.30pm
Tickets £13 to £55 (bkg fee)