Age Restriction 5+ Years Child policy Children under 5 years old will not be allowed
Book Motown The Musical Tickets
Inspired by Berry Gordy’s autobiography “To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown”, Motown the Musical charts the ups and downs of the celebrated record producer’s personal and professional relationships with the legendary Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and many more; artists renowned for their stunning contribution to soul music.
Motown the Musical is performed by an eighteen piece orchestra and comprised of over 50 Motown tracks, including “Dancing in the Street”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “I Heard It through the Grapevine” and “My Girl”. The show was nominated for four Tony Awards while on Broadway and, since opening in 2016 in the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre, has continued to successfully bring to life one of the most influential eras in music history.
Motown the Musical provides insight into how Berry Gordy, who started with just $800 in the bank, went from being a featherweight boxer to a heavyweight music mogul. The musical begins in 1983 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium where some of the world's biggest recording stars are gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Motown Records. Gordy refuses to join the reunion, still hurt that his protégés eventually abandoned him for greener pastures – in Diana Ross’s case, a $20 million offer from RCA records.
Told through flashbacks, Gordy's fame grows swiftly during the 1960s and his record label draws in names like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Soon, with America socially charged and racially divided, Gordy realises Motown’s true calling: to unite the country through music. Gordy went on to produce 110 top 10 hits from 1961 to 1971 as well as releasing three of Martin Luther King’s speeches.
This is Broadway actor Cedric Neal’s West End debut as Berry Gordy. Joining him are Lucy St Louis as Diana Ross, Obioma Ugoala as Smokey Robinson and Sifiso Mazibuko as Marvin Gaye. They are supported by a cast of 30 who bring Gordy’s story to life with sass, style and soul. The production is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright with choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams.
Motown The Musical is taking bookings until 5 January 2019, when the show will celebrate its third year in London and Motown will celebrate sixty years since the record company was founded.
Book your Motown the Musical tickets, playing at The Shaftesbury Theatre today.
About Motown The Musical
Motown the Musical tells the story of Motown founder Berry Gordy who is inspired to become a music mogul after he watches an iconic boxing match and turns his attentions to being the best version of himself possible. As he turns his back on boxing, he borrows $800 from his family to set up Hitsville USA - a Detroit town house that would go on to discover original songwriting and performing talent. Acts such as The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and The Temptations would enter unknowns and leave as stars, with personalities such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye furthering the Motown Records profile.
As Gordy's success builds and he breeds competition amongst his acts, he struggles to keep control of his business and his personal life as he falls in love with Diana Ross. Through the power of music, Motown the Musical tells this unknown story that links together some of the most iconic performers music has ever seen, set against a time that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King and JFK as well as the War in Vietnam and race riots. Discover the true story behind the music and acts you thought you knew, whilst remembering the soundtrack that defined a generation.
Motown The Musical Child Policy
Age Restriction 5+ Years Child policy Children under 5 years old will not be allowed
Sat, 2 November 2019
Motown The Musical Cast
By:Based on the book 'To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown' by Berry Gordy, featuring music from Motown Records Director:Charles Randolph-Wright
Cast list: Jay Perry (Berry Gordy), Natalie Kassanga (Diana Ross), David Albury (Smokey Robinson) and Carl Spencer (Marvin Gaye). The ensemble includes:Chanice Alexandra-Burnett, KM Drew Boateng, Timothy Benjamin, Ryan Carter, Ricardo Castro, Amandla Elynah, Livvy Evans, Segun Fawole, Angela Marie Hurst, Cameron Bernard Jones, Cleopatra Joseph, Nathan Lorainey-Dineen, Mireia Mambo, Matt Overfield, Adam Philpott, Ainsley Hall Ricketts, Lawrence Rowe, Jaime Tait, Kyle Turner, Anna Van Ruiten, Cherelle Williams, Lashane Williams, Michael Woolston-Thomas, Jayme-Lee Zanoncelli and Mitchell Zhangazha.
Motown The Musical Critics & Reviews
Critics rating: **** Average press rating: *** Review by: Mark Shenton Motown the Musical - Review
Jukebox musicals — shows that plunder old pop catalogues to make the music of their youth come alive for theatregoers who can now afford the price of theatre tickets to indulge such nostalgia — have become a West End and Broadway epidemic. I recently adored Close to You, a shameless concert promotion but also reinvention of the songs of Burt Bacharach, and Beautiful and Jersey Boys are both smart Broadway biographies of the legends that are Carole King and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons respectively.
But each of those had a bit of distance from their subjects and catalogues that enabled them to provide a reverent but different take on them. What to make of Motown the Musical, written and co-produced by Berry Gordy, the man whose story and amazing impact on popular music as founder of the Motown label it slavishly chronicles?
He hasn't perhaps served himself best by taking all the credit, in every way, here. It's a megalomania run riot — but perhaps that, too, was the secret of his single-minded success. Though the musical has him expressing some doubts along the way — and even suffering a bout of impotence when he goes to bed with his star Diana Ross — it is mostly standard-issue hagiography, a triumph of will and determination against such serious obstacles as an America that was still racially segregated in some parts and Big Business as rival labels started poaching his artists.
But these diversions into seriousness that also throw in the assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King for good measure soon dissolve into a pop parade of over 50 of the songs that the Motown label turned into global hits, from artists that as well as Diana Ross and the Supremes also included Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves and the Jackson Five, including a pint-sized Michael Jackson.
The latter means that Jackson is now appearing simultaneously on two West End stages, as he's also the subject of his own revue, Thriller Live, at the Lyric. Eshan Gopal, the youngster who played him on press night, has actually played the same role in Thriller Live, so he might be feeling a sense of youthful deja vu, though the production values are undoubtedly far higher here.
That sense of deja vu might be shared by audiences watching this in the Shaftesbury, where two more Broadway imports of Hairspray and Memphis once played, and both revolved around fictional portrayals of the emergence of 'race music' as it was called into mainstream culture in late 50s and early 60s America, and of which the Motown label was a market leader.
But all doubts dissipate as those songs keep coming at us. And director Charles Randolph-Wright's slick, sleek production, with exhilarating choreography of non-stop movement by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams and an amazing band under the musical direction of Gareth Weedon, makes the music come alive in sound, motion and emotion. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours" is one of them; and I felt that the same about the show by the time it reached its uproarious finale to Dancing in the Streets, which had the audience dancing in the aisles.
Gordy is powerfully portrayed by American import Cedric Neal, and there are strong impersonations of Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye by Lucy St Louis, Charl Brown and Sifiso Mazibuko respectively; it is thrilling to see so much exceptional talent on one stage.
Motown the Musical tickets are now on sale.
"It is clear that the ego has landed. But, eager as I am as the next person to learn more about the Motown mogul, I was disappointed at how little I discovered." Michael Billington for The Guardian
"The show moves beyond being a welcome nostalgia fest and becomes an urgent rallying cry for us all to rediscover our Motown mojo." Dominic Cavendish The Telegraph
"This show is always enjoyable, if not always the transcendent hit you long for it to be." Dominic Maxwell for The Times
"The first half is a mess - too many songs, several little more than abbreviated verses, and a comically bad script." Quentin Letts for The Daily Mail
The Shaftesbury Theatre opened under a different name, The Princes Theatre, on Boxing Day in 1911 with a production of The Three Musketeers. It is the most recent theatre to be built on Shaftesbury Avenue. It was designed as a house for melodrama by Bertie Crewe for the Melville brothers, who also owned the Lyceum Theatre at the time. The interior of the theatre was lavishly decorated with statues representing comedy, tragedy, poetry and music, as well as impressive paintings. It was renamed the New Princes Theatre in 1914, and operetta was introduced in 1916 under the new management of Seymour Hicks. Notably, in 1921, Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas played a season at the theatre performed by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, who still operate today.
Under new management, the theatre had its name changed to the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1962, reopening with the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying which was the theatre’s first long-running musical. The musical Hair opened in September 1968 when the ban on theatre censorship was lifted, and went on for a run of just under 2000 performances. The show and theatre were forced to close when parts of the ceiling fell in on 20th July 1973. After much campaigning from actors and members of the entertainment industry the theatre was saved from demolition and is now a Grade II listed building.
Reopening in 1974, the Shaftesbury has since seen a long line of musical productions performed on its stage, starting with West Side Story, and closing the 20th Century with the Broadway sensation Rent (1998). The new millennium saw a handful of new musicals take up residence, but none particularly successful. This changed in 2007 when the Tony Award winning Hairspray transferred from Broadway and played for almost three years – the most successful production the Shaftesbury has seen.
The Broadway musical Motown opened in March of 2016 and is still enjoying considerable success.
The auditorium has three levels – the Stalls, Royal Circle and Grand Circle.
Of note, the seats in the Stalls are on a very shallow rake which means that sightlines can be problematic, and the overhang of the Royal Circle does have an affect on the view for those in Row P and onwards.
In the Royal Circle, the seats are gently raked which might impact on the sightlines depending on certain productions. Those in Row H and onwards will notice the overhang of the Grand Circle.
The Grand Circle does feel far away from the stage, but the central seats do offer good views of the stage.
Facilities At Shaftesbury Theatre
Seat plan: Shaftesbury Theatre Seat Plan Facilities: Air conditioned Bar Disabled toilets Infrared hearing loop Toilets Wheelchair accessible
STALLS There are 22 stairs from the front door entrance down to side of Stalls row L & M There are 24 stairs from the hall by BO down to front Stalls, side of row B & C There are 15 stairs up from the back staircase of the Stalls Row M has extra leg room as there is a walkway between row L & M
GRAND CIRCLE There are 34 stairs from the disabled toilet up to the GC. Then 2 more steps per row. If you were to go to row J, at the back, it is an extra 23 stairs. Total of stairs from ground level (RC level) to back of GC is 57.
ROYAL CIRCLE There are no stairs to the side of front RC, low numbers. There's 2 steps up per row. E.g. 8 little stairs to row D
BOXES Ramp to Box F, wheelchair access for 2 people. Door into box F is 71cm wide Box B has 2 stairs down to it from the hall via BO. Wheelchair transferable only. Seats 3 people.
AISLE SEATS Seat numbers 18 & 19 are aisles in all cases of Stalls & Royal Circle. 18 is left leg out to aisle. 19 is right leg out to aisle. Back Stalls row M to X - seats 12 & 13 are also aisles. In the Grand Circle aisles seats are on seats numbers 13 & 14 also numbers 24 & 25.
SEAT AND AUDITORIUM INFORMATION
Rows U-X – the seats are under the overhang of the Royal Circle and patrons will miss top of the set and they are usually Price Band B but not classed as RVs.
Row M – Extra Leg Room.
Row E – the rake begins here.
ROYAL CIRCLE (STREET LEVEL)
Boxes C,D (seat 3) and H,G ( seat 2)– Grand Circle Level – RV’s Side View.
Box B – Transfer WC (seats 3) – Side View.
Box F – Non Transfer WC (seats 2) – Side View.
A4 and 5 – WC Transfer Seats.
Row A – Leg Room Restriction 5ft 10inches and over it’s a tight squeeze. Fantastic view.
Row A33 – RV – Side View, End of Row.
Row N – Restricted Views – will miss the top of the set , front of the stage and are located at the back of the Royal Circle.
Steep rake – quite high.
Row A5–33 – Safety Rail of about 2 inches will hit eye line if around 5ft 4inches.
Row C4, 13,24,25,34 and Row B4,13,24,25,34 – restricted views – hand rails down the sides and safety rail on Row A.
Sound Amplification: Infra-red system with 20 headsets and 15 neckloops. Collect from foyer sweet kiosk.
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs allowed in the auditorium, or theatre staff can look after them.
Disabled Access: Spaces for 4 wheelchairs in Boxes A and B (entrance approx. 73cm) which are down 3 steps off a corridor to the left of the box office. You will need help negotiating the steps. Transfer seating available to row A4 - 10 in the Royal Circle, the entrance to which is level from the foyer.
Toilets: Women’s up 4 steps from the foyer and a men’s beyond this, 2 steps down off the Circle bar. Further toilets at back of Stalls and Grand Circle levels.
Disabled Toilets: Adapted toilet adjacent to the Royal Circle and acessed through the door next to the Box Office, taking the first right followed by a sharp left.
Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road Tube lines: Central, Northern Location: West End Railway station: King's Cross St Pancras Bus numbers: (Tottenham Court Road Station) 8, 29, 55, 134, 176, 242, 390; (Museum St) 1, 19, 25, 38, 98 Night bus numbers: (Tottenham Court Road Station) 134, 176, 242, 390, N8, N29, N35, N41, N55, N68, N98, N121, N253; (Museum St) 25, N1, N19, N38, N207 Car park: Holborn, Selkirk House Museum Street (5mins) Within congestion zone?: Yes Directions from tube: (5mins) Turn right onto New Oxford Street (past the Dominion) for 200 metres, and then turn right onto Shaftesbury Avenue, where the theatre will be on your left 100 metres down.