Rehearsals for the West End production of Motown the Musical, helmed by Charles Randolph-Wright, are in full force featuring Cedric Neal as Berry Gordy, Charl Brown reprising his Tony-nominated role as Smokey Robinson, Sifiso Mazibuko as Marvin Gaye and Lucy St. Louis as Diana Ross.
Motown the Musical features music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalogue and book by Motown founder Berry Gordy. London previews will begin on February 11, 2016, with press night on March 8, 2016 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8DP. Performances are scheduled through October 22, 2016. Motown the Musical will return to Broadway in July for an 18 week run.
The cast also features Keisha Amponsa Banson as Mary Wells, Cindy Belliot as Anna Gordy, Samuel Edwards as Jackie Wilson, Portia Harry as Teena Marie, Aisha Jawando as Martha Reeves, Joshua Liburd as Eddie Kendricks, Simeon Montague as Jermaine Jackson, Cleopatra Rey as Gladys Knight, Brandon Lee Sears as Tito Jackson, Jordan Shaw as Stevie Wonder, Cherelle Williams as Mary Wilson and 12 year old Eshan Gopal from Kingsbury, London, 13 year old Kwame Kandekore from Leicester and 11 year old Joshua Tikare from Bromley who will alternate the role of Young Michael Jackson. They are joined by swings and ensemble members Daniel Bailey, Edward Baruwa, Tanya Nicole Edwards, Eddie Elliott, Christopher Fry, Alex Hammond, Edward Handoll, Simon Ray Harvey, Elias Hendricks, Brian James Leys, Jayde Nelson, Simone Mistry Palmer, Carl Spencer and Marcel J Whyte.
Charl Brown’s previous portrayal of Smokey Robinson in the Broadway production of Motown the Musical earned him a 2013 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. His earlier theatre credits include the role of Hud on the European Tour of Hair, Jersey Boys on Broadway and in Las Vegas and the Off-Broadway production of Walmartopia. Brown’s Broadway debut in 2011 was in the original cast of Sister Act.*
I caught up with Brown on January 17th at the Hilton New York where he was performing with his group The Doowop Project during the APAP Conference. Brown’s co-star Marva Hicks from the Broadway production of Motown the Musical, came out to support. Check out photos from the APAP Conference below.
Sifiso Mazibuko’s (Marvin Gaye) UK theatre credits include The Tempest for Flute Theatre, A Land Without People and The First Actress for Palindrome Productions, Hector at The Courtyard Theatre and Dancers performed in both London and New York. His American theatre credits include the theatre is a blank page produced by Anne Bogart, Ann Hamilton & the SITI company. Mazibuko also performed in Shaka Zulu the Musical at the State Theatre in South Africa, was part of the Asian Tour of African Footprint and was in Dreamgirls the Musical in South Africa. His film credits include Pretville.
Cedric Neal’s (Berry Gordy) US theatre credits include After Midnight on Broadway, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess on Broadway and for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Dreamgirls for the Signature Theatre for which he won a Helen Hayes Award, The Who’s Tommy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stagger Lee for the Dallas Theater Center. Neal has also worked at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Zach Theater and was a recurring character on the television series Friday Night Lights.
*Charl Brown is appearing with the support of UK Equity, incorporating the Variety Artistes’ Federation, pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity.
Lucy St. Louis (Diana Ross) is currently performing in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre. Her previous theatre credits include The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Ragtime for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Peter Pan for the Venue Cymru, Llandudno and Ultimate Broadway for the Shanghai Culture Square Theatre. On film, she will be seen in the upcoming Disney live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
With just $800 borrowed from his family, Motown founder Berry Gordy, goes from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music mogul, discovering and launching the careers of Diana Ross,Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more. Motown the Musical uncovers the true story of the legendary record label that changed music history and created the soundtrack of a generation.
Featuring a sixteen piece orchestra playing 50 Motown tracks including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’ll Be There, Dancing In The Street, Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl and I Heard It through the Grapevine, Charles Randolph-Wright’s production tells the story behind the classic hits.
Tony nominated Motown the Musical received its world premiere in April 2013 in New York at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and recouped its $18 million investment by the end of 2014. The first US National Tour opened to critical acclaim last spring in Chicago, grossing $20 million dollars during its standing room only sixteen-week run, and continues to play to packed houses across America.
Motown the Musical has music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Ethan Popp, co-orchestrations and additional arrangements by Bryan Cook, dance arrangements by Zane Mark and music direction by Gareth Weedon. Choreography is by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, costumes by Esosa, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound byPeter Hylenski and projections by Daniel Brodie. UK associate director is Tara Wilkinson, UK associate set designer is Andrew Edwards and UK associate lighting designer is Alistair Grant. Motown the Musical will be produced in the West End by Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris, Berry Gordy and Adam Spiegel.
Berry Gordy is the founder of Motown, the enterprise that nurtured the careers of, amongst others, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 and more. Gordy is also a songwriter, producer, director, boxer, innovative entrepreneur, teacher and visionary. Actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, he also released the recorded speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His films include Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues, which received five Academy Award nominations. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Pioneer Award, the Grammy Salute To Industry Icon’s President’s Merit Award and was honored by President Barack Obama with a Salute to Motown evening at the White House. Berry Gordy’s unparalleled contribution to music and popular culture is chronicled in his autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown.
Charles Randolph-Wright is a director, writer and producer for theatre, film, and television. His theatre directing credits include Motown the Musical on Broadway and the US tour, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined and Sophisticated Ladies at Arena Stage where he is an inaugural resident playwright, the 75th Anniversary international tour of Porgy and Bess, Love/Life at Lincoln Center with Brian Stokes Mitchell, the national tour of Guys and Dolls, They’re Playing Our Song in Brazil in Portuguese, and most recently, the world premiere of Akeelah and the Bee. Randolph-Wright wrote the plays Blue, The Night Is A Child, Cuttin’ Up, Love in Afghanistan, and co-wrote Just Between Friends – Bea Arthur on Broadway. He directed the award-winning film Preaching to the Choir, and has written screenplays for HBO, Showtime, Disney and Fox. His television credits include directing Lincoln Heights, South of Nowhere, Bebe Winans’ special America America, the “Freestyle” football commercial for Nike, and producing and writing the Showtime series Linc’s. David Korins is a New York based scenic and production designer for theater, film, opera, television, concerts, festivals, residential and commercial spaces and immersive experiences. His Broadway credits include Annie, Bring It On, Chinglish, An Evening with Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin, Magic/Bird, Godspell, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange and Bridge and Tunnel. He has also worked extensively both Off-Broadway and regionally. David’s opera credits include The Gospel of Mary Magdalene at San Francisco Opera and Oscar and Life is a Dream at the Santa Fe Opera. In 2011, David served as Kanye West’s creative director designing several concerts in the United States and abroad. David has designed installations across the country for festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and The Great GoogaMooga. He has been the production designer for several feature films, television specials and series on NBC, CBS, HBO, Bravo TV, IFC, Comedy Central, Lifetime and the Game Show Network. David has done commercial work for Target, Samsung, World MasterCard, McDonald’s and Friendly’s. He has received a Drama Desk Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, three Henry Hewes Awards and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design. davidkorinsdesign.com
The original Broadway cast recording of Motown the Musical is available via Motown Records, a label of UMG Recordings – www.classicmotown.com
Performances: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday & Saturday matinees at 3pm
First midweek matinee 18 February 2016
Prices: £19.50 – £69.50 Monday – Thursday, £19.50 – £75 Friday and Saturday.
No booking fees via www.motownthemusical.co.uk, over the phone on 020 7379 5399 or in person at the Shaftesbury Theatre Box Office.
Day seats will go on sale from the Box Office, in person only, from 10am on the day of performance.
Box Office: 020 7379 5399
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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