by Kate Branum
The rise of Motown shattered barriers, united a separated generation and drastically altered the face of American music. This month, Broadway Grand Rapids takes the city on a toe-tapping, head-bopping ride through the 1960s with several performances of Motown: The Musical at the DeVos Performance Hall.
The musical, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright and produced by Tony Award winning producer Kevin McCollum, Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Entertainment Doug Morris and groundbreaking music mogul Berry Gordy, transports audience members back to the formation of the iconic Motown era through the eyes of its founder, Gordy.
Based on his infamous 1994 autobiography, To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown, the lively production depicts Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to heavyweight music tycoon and his personal and professional relationships with some of the biggest names in the Motown business, including Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and many more.
Motown: The Musical aims to get audience members out of their seats, singing and swaying to familiar, favorite tunes. The production features more than 40 classic hits sung by legendary artists who fought against all odds to change the soundtrack of America, including “My Girl,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Dancing in the Street.”
The cast of the musical began traveling the country in January 2016 and has since completed more than 100 performances. Recently, they’ve been making their way around the East Coast.
Toronto native Alana Randall was thrilled to embark on her third national tour with the Motown troupe. The seasoned actress has appeared in several large productions prior to Motown, including: The Virginia Monologues, Dirty Dancing, The Wizard of Oz, West Side Story, Hairspray, Hair and High School Musical.
Randall plays a swing, a role that requires her to memorize and perform six different female chorus parts in the musical. Though her role is demanding, Randall feels honored to partake in such an impactful production and hopes the audience takes away a powerful message.
“Berry Gordy started from the ground up, and he pretty much changed the world because his music united people of different races and backgrounds, and it was around the time when black people and white people weren’t allowed to go to concerts together, and I just feel like it’s so beautiful to be a part of that change,” Randall expressed.
Motown: The Musical inspires viewers to work hard and pursue their dreams despite any obstacles, just as Gordy did. The performance welcomes people of all ages to come and celebrate the inspirational accomplishments that helped shape the ever-evolving world of music.
“I love seeing people from all backgrounds and different ages coming together and enjoy the music of Motown,” Randall said. “It’s nice looking into the audience and seeing the joy that is spread around.”
Mark your calendar and join in on this vivid, upbeat whirlwind of 20th century nostalgia. Motown: The Musical tickets are available at the Broadway Grand Rapids ticket office (22 Lyon St NW, Grand Rapids), online at BroadwayGrandRapids.com or by phone at (616) 235-6285. For more information on the show, visit MotownTheMusical.com.
What: Motown: The Musical
When: Tuesday, May 2 through Sunday, May 7
Where: The DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids
Cost: Balcony seats begin at $37 per person. Seating prices vary.