Berry Gordy and some of his most famous musical proteges hit the great white way Thursday night for a star studded preview of the new broadway production based on his life story. A crowd of 1200 people were treated to a 90 minute preview of the show that opens on April 14, 2013 at the Lunt Fontaine Theater. Previews begin March 11, 2013.
Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson, Holland-Dozier-Holland and others came to town to support the musical. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was also there, calling the musical “a major moment” for Detroit that was long overdue.
Songs performed included “Get Ready,” “My Girl,” “Dancing in the Street,” “You Really Got a Hold on Me” and “Ball of Confusion.” An infectious “Do You Love Me” drew a roar from the crowd. “Motown” will feature three new Gordy compositions. One of them, a tribute to boxer Joe Louis, was performed Thursday.
MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL tells the gripping story behind the hits as Smokey finds his unique voice, Diana skyrockets to stardom and Berry fights against the odds to turn his improbable dream into a triumphant reality. The music that shattered barriers and shaped our lives finally comes to the Broadway stage in the season’s most highly anticipated world-premiere event.
The story line is: The show will start in 1983 with a frazzled Gordy, confounded by lawsuits and artist exits, resisting the call for a Motown 25th anniversary TV special. The musical then flashes back to 1960s Detroit before flashing further back to Gordy’s childhood. From there it moves to 1983, spanning both the Detroit and L.A. eras of Motown.
The show announced a relationship with Chrysler that will tie into the automaker’s “Imported from Detroit” campaign. A national TV spot will debut next month, featuring Gordy in a Chrysler heading from Detroit to Broadway.
Auditions will be held in Detroit in November for several roles, including the part of a young Michael Jackson. “It’s very important to me that we reach out to the Detroit community and let them know this is theirs, too,” said director Charles Randolph-Wright. He said he has talked with the Rev. Marvin Winans about hosting auditions.