Review: “Motown: The Musical” Gets You Bopping to the Beat

Krisha Marcano, Allison Semmes and Trisha Jeffrey in “Motown: The Musical” (Joan Marcus)

Krisha Marcano, Allison Semmes and Trisha Jeffrey in “Motown: The Musical” (Joan Marcus)

“Motown: The Musical” has finally hit Los Angeles after a nearly two-year run on Broadway. The Hollywood Pantages Theatre is its new home for a limited six-week run, now through June 7.

Based on Berry Gordy’s 1994 autobiography To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, the musical was born. The show starts in 1983 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium moments before the celebration of Motown’s 25th anniversary. It flashes back to tell the story of how Gordy came to be a musical mogul and producing legend, all while creating a new sound of music out of his small studio, Hitsville U.S.A. in Detroit, Mich.

The Los Angeles debut and of “Motown: The Musical” brought out stars and legends galore. Smokey Robinson, who was instrumental in helping Gordy develop Motown, was standing there right next to the Motown founder on the red carpet. When the curtain opened and the music blasted the audience, they knew they were in for a treat.

“Motown: The Musical” begins with the Temptations and the Four Tops having a battle of the bands, joking with each other about who still had the moves. The musical reminds the audience just how many sensational acts came out of Detroit throughout the ’60s and early ‘70s with Gordy discovering Diana Ross and the Supremes, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Robinson and, of course, the Jackson 5. When Gordy moved his headquarters to Los Angeles in 1972, he still produced artist after artist with successes like Rick James, Teena Marie, and Lionel Richie and the Commodores.

The musical is such a fun and eye-opening show. There are over 50 songs sung throughout, which is only a fraction of the Motown music catalog. Even though it’s showcasing the music of Motown, there is a story at the heart as well: how Gordy came to start his company, and the trials and tribulations that occurred throughout the years.

For anything great worth achieving there is struggle and heartache. Those areas explored, like his romance and relationship with Ross that ultimately built a wedge between the Supremes, and also, his artists becoming so huge that they wanted to venture out to other labels which brought lawsuits.

The show is a lengthy two hours and 45 minutes, but you really enjoy each minute because you are singing along or getting wrapped up in the story unfolding before your eyes. The choreography, the costumes and the music make this a show not to miss. Every little detail has been flushed out, and you feel transported as an audience member to a past time and place.

“Motown: The Musical” is nothing short of a show stopper. With its limited run, these tickets are a hot item. I’m still singing the songs from the debut and can imagine they won’t leave me anytime soon.

“Motown: The Musical” runs through June 7. For tickets and more information, visit hollywoodpantages.com/motown.

Ariel Paredes is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter: @RELworld

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