REVIEW: Motown the Musical at Hershey Theatre
Motown the Musical hits the stage this weekend at Hershey Theatre.
The show combines the hits everyone loves with Motown’s backstory in celebration of the record label that helped shape a generation of music.
Motown is a revue show wrapped in a history lesson. The songs intermingle throughout the show, sharing Motown’s story through the work of its most beloved artists.
I scored preview night tickets, and I expected to experience Motown’s greatest hits paired with a lot of choreography, but with little story or plot to back it up. However, the performance numbers align perfectly to fit the story.
Motown the Musical follows the story of the label’s founder, Berry Gordy, played by Chester Gregory, as he makes his way from a small town recording studio in Detroit, to the pinnacle of the recording world.
It shows the highs of the first hit of “My Guy” to the low when Gordy started to lose control of his artists and his company. You also see how the Motown label was shaped by then-current events like Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the Vietnam War.
Favorite Motown artists like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson all come to life on the stage once more. Exciting renditions of their hit songs follow the history of Motown and how Gordy handled his fame along with the fame of his recording artists.
Gregory has the spotlight for most of the show, and his solo vocal pieces are full of passion, making for a few of the best moments. His final number, “Can I Close the Door (On Love),” shows his vocal talent and gave me goosebumps.
While Gregory made the show, 12-year-old Raymond Davis undoubtedly stole the show more than once. Davis played young Berry Gordy, young Stevie Wonder, and of course, Michael Jackson.
You could tell Davis had the time of his life as the Jackson 5 took the stage to perform a melody of their famous hits. The kid can sing, and he is fun to watch on stage.
A special nod goes to the pit band who played throughout the entire show. It’s not easy music, and as a former bass player – albeit not at that level – I know how tough it is to play an entire show. These guys hardly get recognized, but without them, the show wouldn’t have the energy that it did.
If you’re a fan of Motown music, this show is for you. It’s high-energy all the way through and keeps you on your toes wondering what song is coming up next.
For me, I enjoyed it because it gives a look at the history behind some of the greatest music ever recorded.