On a not so typical evening in Atlanta with the hustle and bustle of daily life accompanied by stormy weather, a ray of sunshine, so to speak is about to commence in the heart of the city at the landmark fabulous Fox Theater. As far as I could see I observed a diverse sea of people filling the lobby, congregating outside the locked doors. Their faces filled with excitement and anticipation of what awaited them inside. I was overwhelmed with amazement at the sight of it all.

As the doors opened to a sold out show, we embarked on a journey to travel back in time all while being serenaded by the incomparable sound of none other than Motown. Yes indeed, Hitsville U.S.A. I was not prepared for the soul stirring musical that begged one to ask themselves, “Where was I in that moment in time?” and “Where was I when this song was playing on the radio?”

Nostalgia sums up tonight, as the talented cast brings the audience to their feet to applaud their visually stunning performances of song and dance. However, the success of the musical is not solely weighed upon reliving the highly publicized past of the world renowned record label, but also attributed to the brutally honest narrative that filled in the smallest details regarding back stories many may not have known.

As Berry Gordy, Josh Tower ignited the stage with his fiery presence. He allowed us to reimagine Gordy’s dreams of grandeur as well as make us privy to his vulnerabilities. Actress Allison Semmes’ turn as the Diana Ross was not only spectacular but comical. One moment of the night Diana Ross was providing what appeared to be her first solo performance in a Las Vegas casino when she cascaded down the stage into the audience to engage the crowd and even selected two very lucky audience members to sing along with her as she thanked them for traveling all the way to Vegas to see her. Another standout performance is credited to actor Jesse Nager portraying the legendary Smokey Robinson, as the musical explores his ascension into greatness through his songs, writings, and unbreakable bond with Gordy as best friends.

So many musical talents, so many story lines, intertwined to be told. I was astounded at the roster of stars that graced the stage as the audience cheered with glee for Mary Wells, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye,The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Marvelettes, Rick James, Tina Marie and Glady’s Knight and the Pips to name a few who appeared within the two hour production.

Motown The Musical is a captivating show worthy of an encore that will maintain its current course to be a fan favorite. Truly, an astonishing musical gem for all ages that reminds us all that the production is not merely about hit records, but above all, about the genius of founder Berry Gordy. Motown is know for its legion of talented artists whom through challenges and triumphs not only made history, but also shaped American culture.



-Joy Larkins

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