For those who don’t already know, I was born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. My mother’s family worked in the automobile trade (their business supplied the ‘Big Three’ – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) so it’s fair to say I am a true native of Motor City! But it’s not just cars we’re famous for. Or for being the potato chip capital of the world. Detroit, and more specifically Berry Gordy, also gave the world Motown.
Feeling a bit homesick the other day I thought what better cure than a trip to Shaftesbury Theatre where Motown the Musical is playing to packed houses.
I can report that it was absolutely spectacular, a super slick extravaganza of a show celebrating the extraordinary life and career of Gordy – a household name back home but still less famous over here than his record label. Without Gordy, we may never have heard Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations or Marvin Gaye. And a world without the musical genius of those legends would be truly dull.
All these iconic tunes are played out against a backdrop of the civil rights movement and the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King as the show charts the highs and lows of Gordy’s musical empire and its stars. The boy playing the very young Michael Jackson really stole the show for me but really, all the performers were top notch – the actors playing Diana Ross (WHAT a life that lady has led), Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye were all perfectly cast.
Anything to do with my hometown will obviously hold a very special place in my heart, but if you’re a fan of Motown music (and how could you not be?), I highly, highly recommend catching Motown the Musical. Your feet will be tapping for weeks afterwards.
PS. I also LOVED The Bodyguard, which recently returned to the West End with Beverley Knight in the lead role. She’s amazing. Go see it before it finishes in January!