“Motown the Musical,” which played recently at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is a live show sure to get your toes tapping in no time.
Nicknamed the “Motor City” due to its prominence in the automobile industry, Detroit, Michigan, was also a musical hotspot through the 60s and into the 70s.
This was largely due to Berry Gordy Jr. (played by Chester Gregory)’s startup record label, Motown. Gordy’s label was the start for many classic icons such as The Jackson Five, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and many more.
Gordy altered social expectation by fighting for African-American musicians and bringing new music to mainstream America.
The musical tells the true story of Gordy’s journey, from 1959 all the way ‘til the close of Motown.
Along the path of following his dreams, Gordy falls in love with Diana Ross, which adds a romantic aspect to the story.
I particularly enjoyed this musical because it had everyone singing in their seats and participating. At one point, the audience was asked to join hands during a performance by Allison Semmes of Diana Ross’s “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”
I liked this because it spread the message that we are all in this together. The audience was also presented with the opportunity to join in singing along with the actors, which made the show much more engaging.
The musical, however does touch on heavier subjects such as segregation, and includes some infrequent crude language.
Therefore, I would say this is for ages 13 and up. However, it is a unique way of learning some American history. Having the story acted out provides a different source of knowledge rather than a textbook.
This makes learning more engaging and gives people the opportunity to somewhat experience what that time in history was like. The intricate costumes and set designs bring you back to the setting of the story, making it all come to life. The musical is directed towards older generations, as the songs date all the way back to the 1960s.
However, it was still fun for everyone, because you are guaranteed to know at least one song that you can sing along to.
Though it was only in Denver for a brief period of time, there is always the chance of it returning. If so, I would highly recommend you put this on your list of things to go do. It is a definite must see!