When I was 12, as most teenagers did, I had to do the dishes after dinner every night., not in a dishwasher (as I keep telling you I’m old), but stand there and wash them for half an hour by hand . I used to have a tape player to listen to music to keep me quiet, and one of my discoveries at that age was an album by Smokey Robinson. That was probably my first actual love of Motown, and after that it hit me square between the eyes… The Supremes, Stevie, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye…. the list just keeps going on.
However, Berry Gordy….. hmm ….. I heard he was a bit hard on the artists, but didn’t really know much about him, so was really interested in what the musical was going to bring to the table, as this musical was actually produced by Berry Gordy to set the record straight.
The story starts backstage before the 25th anniversary concert, in 1983, with Berry Gordy refusing to go to his own anniversary.
We then get taken on a musical journey form the beginning, explaining how he got his first hit with Reet Petite, when he met his best friend Smokey Robinson, when the Supremes entered Motown, how the Jackson 5 got involved and lots more. It tackles the problem of racism which was encountered by all the artists at the time, and how they overcame the divide with their music to bring us hits that we know today as classics. It also tells you about how Berry and Diana fell in love, and ultimately his fascination with Diana, led to a lot of disgruntled bands in Motown, and eventually the demise of the label.
As a musical it is packed with more hits than I’ve ever experienced, and despite them not physically able to fit more in, you know they have missed some out! Its visually stunning, and the costumes and dancing fill the stage at every opportunity.
Without a shadow of a doubt though the two things that shone through this amazing show are the two stars of the evening, Edward Baruwa who plays Berry Gordy, and Karis Anderson who plays Diana. Karis literally has so many songs to sing, and she does it outstandingly. She doesn’t miss a note, and plays Diana, with a tinge of crazy….. which we all know is what we love about Diana Ross. Edward Baruwa’s tone to his voice is on another level. He barely needs the orchestra or a microphone, and can fill the WMC with his booming vocals with one note. Expect those hairs to stand on end. They will.
All in all guys, expect a visual and acoustic wonder. The artists do Berry Gordy, his story, and his stars more than justice. Expect audience participation, singing and dancing.
Expect an amazing night out.
Motown the Musical is running in the Wales Millenium Centre from 26th March – 6th April. Running time approx. 2 hours 40 mins.